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Right Way/Wrong Way Pair

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You know... "Remember, boys and girls, don't be a dimwit!" How could you not know that?

"One who is wise is cautious and turns away from evil, but a fool is reckless and careless."

A pair of characters are compared and contrasted against each other, where one character demonstrates the proper, moral, or effective way to do things, while the other... is a complete failure.

The characters are likely The Paragon vs. the Anti-Role Model, although any contrasting foils will do. There's probably An Aesop (at least implied) that we're meant to act like the Right Way character and not act like— yeah, you see where this is going.

As the Trope Maker is Goofus and Gallant, the characters, if they are named, set up in an Imagine Spot or something similar, will have rhyming, alliterative or Theme Naming. Quite a few examples could count as Stock Parodies.

When the characters are related, compare Foolish Sibling, Responsible Sibling and Youngest Child Wins. In humor, compare Boke and Tsukkomi Routine. Also compare Good Angel, Bad Angel. May be an example of Black-and-White Morality. The "wrong" character may or may not be a Deliberately Bad Example.


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  • A fairly Omnipresent Trope where Brand X contrasts itself against Brand Y.
    • Apple uses this in the "I'm a Mac / I'm a PC" commercials.
    • Various cell phone companies will use this and models of their clients to show why each is superior.
  • An anti-drunk driving radio PSA has two girls telling stories of going home from a bar. They're basically the same girl, Sliding Doors style: one drives home and the other takes a cab.
    Girl 1: A squirrel ran across the road.
    Girl 2: A squirrel ran across the road.
    Girl 1: I swerved.
    Girl 2: The cab swerved.
    Girl 1: I hit a guy.
    Girl 2: The cabbie just missed a guy.
    Girl 1: I wish I'd taken a cab home.
    Girl 2: Thank God I took a cab home.
  • A public service announcement on radio for emergency preparedness had two copies of a mother; one of whom had a plan. After introducing themselves, they talk simultaneously about an emergency they both experienced, sometimes in unison.
  • A beer ad in Brazil had compared the lives of two men: one spent a night at the bar and the other spent it at home. It pointed five good reasons the bar would be better and none for home.
  • A UK advert for HomeServe home insurance as a split screen with Bob and Doug. Both of them have the same DIY accident, but Bob has cover, and HomeServe send a very professional looking plumber round. Doug doesn't and has to get a slightly dodgy-looking plumber who does the job, but then Doug has to keep forking over money. The slogan is "Don't be a mug, like Doug".
  • Russian commercials for Fairy dishwashing liquid pictured two villages: Villaribo, which used Fairy, and Villabadzho, which didn't. These commercials achieved memetic status and spawned plenty of jokes.
  • There is a series of Japanese TV public service announcements urging young people to conserve energy, which involves Temporal Theme Naming pair Ima, a.k.a Present, a lazy girl with a messy room and bad habits, receiving advice from Mirai, a.k.a Future, her organized and tidy counterpart from another dimension.
  • Nova Scotia's Sexual Violence with the Birds and the Bees PSAs about sexual violence awareness features one in the first video: Zach the Great horned owl who attempts to take advantage of a drunken female bee and Noel the Atlantic puffin who talks him out of it.
  • A series of advertisements for the Alliance and Leicester building society featured Stephen Fry (wrong way) and Hugh Laurie (right way) - Laurie's character would demonstrate why his building society account was so wonderful, Fry's would promptly attempt to show that his dodgy (and fictional) building society could go one better, and fail disastrously.
  • A magazine advertisement for Lapland Computers, set on a beach, showed Mr. Wrong Way (in a scruffy suit) being sold a dubious laptop by a grinning anthropomorphic shark, while Ms. Right Way (who was also Ms. Fanservice) relaxed on a sun lounger with the company's product and the company's polar bear mascot.
  • A commercial for The General (an auto insurance company) has basketball player Shaquille O'Neal failing to perform certain tasks, contrasted with singer Montell Jordan succeeding at said tasks while singing "This Is How We Do It".
  • Several Fox DVDs came with a PSA narrated by James Arnold Taylor, contrasting Bob, who bought a DVD from a store that looks and sounds perfect, makes sense and brings all of his friends closer together, with Jim, who brought a pirated DVD off the street that has grainy picture quality, feedback in the sound, nonsensical editing and it makes all of his friends abandon him.

  • Industry and Idleness by William Hogarth is about the apprentices Francis Goodchild and Tom Idle. Goodchild is a diligent and gracious worker who eventually becomes Lord-Mayor of London. Idle, on the other hand, proves to be too apathetic to work, turns to crime, and is eventually hanged for murder.

    Comic Books 
  • Deadpool and Captain America demonstrate in Baby's First Deadpool.
    Though he doesn’t share their viewpoint, Captain America is considerate of the feelings of his vegetarian friends.
    Deadpool bounds up vegetarians and force-feeds them meatloaf.
  • The Captain N: The Game Master comics had "Villain Do's and Don'ts," in which a strongman named Uranos demonstrates the right way to be a villain, and the Eggplant Wizard demonstrates the wrong way. For instance, Uranos uses a forbidding fortress as his base of operations, while the Eggplant Wizard uses a baseball stadium.
  • Played with in Richie Rich. Cadbury serves as a one-man example of this when he trains another butler by showing him first the wrong way, then the right way to act in a particular situation (e.g., making a pass at the maid as opposed to greeting her politely). However, the trainee's employer, checking up on his progress, always manages to catch Cadbury only when he's acting the wrong way, and in increasingly exaggerated fashion. She finally kicks him out, then is pleasantly surprised when her own butler performs his duties so well.
  • Archie Comics:
    • The cover in one comic depicts Reggie and Archie as ski instructors. Reggie informs their students that he will teach the correct skiing technique, while Archie will show them how not to ski.
    • One story had Betty and Veronica make a film showing the right way/wrong way for guys to behave, using Jughead as the wrong example. It backfires as all the guys want to be like Jughead.

    Comic Strips 
  • MAD's "Melvin and Jenkins". Jenkins, a nerdy-looking chap, is polite and intelligent and always tries to do his best; Melvin, on the other hand, is a gangsta wannabe hoodlum who delights in petty mischief.
  • This Modern World: Goofball and Galahad (seen in these two strips) are parodies of Goofus and Gallant, with the twist that Goofball brings up legitimate problems that Galahad tries to dismiss or explain away.

     Fairy Tales 
  • Numerous fairy tales have this motif with either two siblings or two people with the same occupation being the pairing. Of course one gets rewarded and the other gets punished.
    • Toads and Diamonds (also called The Fairies) features two sisters; one who is kind and polite and the other who is rude and spiteful. The kind sister gives water to an elderly peasant woman at a well and is rewarded by having flowers and gemstones fall from her mouth every time she speaks. The spiteful sister refuses to give her any water to a wealthy and fashionable woman so every time she speaks, snakes and toads fall from her mouth.
    • Frau Holle also features two sisters; one diligent, the other lazy. Both go to a magical land and meet the titular character. The diligent sister does as she is told and works to makes sure the snows fall when asked. The lazy sister skives on her new chores to the point where she won't even get out of bed. When they leave the first sister receives a rain of gold and a chest of jewels, the second ends up covered in pitch and is gifted a box of angry vipers.
    • The Irish Fairy Tale, The Legend of Knockgrafton features two hunchbacks who have a run in with the titular moat, its fairy inhabitants and their music. The first, Lusmore, pays close attention to the music and when he joins in or adds words, he makes sure not to disrupt the melody. The fairies remove his hump and give him some fine new clothes. The second, Jack Madden, is loud and out of tune, and adds words willy-nilly so ends up spoiling the song. The fairies put Lusmore's hump on his back as punishment.

    Fan Works 
  • Colosseum of the Heart: Bonnie shows Sora a video of one of Ash's Alola League battles to show how the announcers are supposed to hype the crowd up, contrasting him with the terrible commentator they're listening to in Phenac City.

  • A training film for the OSS, "Undercover" (directed by John Ford) has as main characters two undercover agents showing the "right" and "wrong" ways to perform various operations; and their handlers-slash-Mr. Exposition to the basics. The "right" agent meticulously plans his way into and up the social ladder of an enemy factory and uses a Boring, but Practical method, while the "wrong" agent prefers to brag about being such a good agent that he doesn't require preparedness and tries to barge into a submarine base to make a "sensational discovery", instead blowing it and becoming a security risk to the local espionage ring very early in his mission.
  • An American World War II military training movie "Welcome to Britain" contrasts a clueless and rude American GI with our polite and respectful host, Burgess Meredith, showing soldiers stationed in Britain how they should behave when out in public. Rather amusingly, Meredith's advice on how to get into the good graces of some aloof pub dwellers occasionally comes across a bit like he's trying to seduce them.
  • Stop Look and Listen: The safe driver and the unsafe driver are this. The safe driver is obeying the speed limit, signaling when he turns, changing lanes responsibly. The unsafe driver is speeding and cutting people off and swerving through traffic and tailgating. The unsafe driver suffers the consequences, getting a speeding ticket before eventually wrecking his car.
  • Strikes and Spares: This 1930s short film is basically a documentary in which Andy Varipapa, a champion bowler, performs all sorts of jaw-dropping trick shots, like bowling a ball down a lane of pins or rolling a ball that curves in an S around two pins on the lane. He is contrasted with another bowler, a bumbling goof who keeps bowling the ball into gutters, or slipping and falling, or getting his thumb stuck in the ball. The goof even has a Dodgy Toupee to complete the package.

  • The Bible':
    • The Book of Proverbs' first 29 chapters carry the thread of contrasting the wise man and a fool.
    • Many of the parables of Jesus in The Four Gospels take this form. The wise man built his house on a rock foundation; the foolish man built on the sand. The Pharisee was arrogant and Holier Than Thou in his prayers, the Tax Collector was humble and repentant and got right with God. The wise virgins kept enough oil for their lamps; the foolish virgins ran out and missed the wedding party. The rich man made himself comfortable on earth and suffered in the afterlife; poor Lazarus suffered on earth and was comforted in the afterlife.
    • Subverted in the parable of the Prodigal Son: his foil The Dutiful Son did not make the same mistakes as his brother, but his self-righteousness and refusal to show grace demonstrate that he has his own moral problems to deal with.
  • Doofus and Darling: Manners for the Modern Man, a humor book demonstrating the right and wrong ways to navigate various social situations.
  • The children's picture book Matilda and Hans by Yokococco contrasts two cats; Matilda does good things like watering flowers, and Hans does naughty things like watering passers-by. Subverted when it turns out that "Hans" is just Matilda in a costume.
  • Unbuilt Trope in "Twice Times" by A. A. Milne. The contrasts aren't actually comparable. Good Bear learns his two times table while Bad Bear doesn't dress himself properly. Then "one got Better and the other got Wuss", showing that anyone can slip up or redeem themselves.
  • In the Pig the Pug series, Pig is bad and a troublemaker, while Trevor is sweet and kind. Things always end up going Trevor’s way in the end, while Pig ends up in trouble thanks to his own actions.
  • Subverted in Wax and Wayne, where both approaches work, but only with the right context. When Wayne and Marasi need to get a bank's ledgers, Wayne concocts elaborate disguises and backstories for the both of them (a rich old lord and his niece), so he can distract the employees while she sneaks in the back. Marasi just tells the manager that they're with the police and need to look at their ledgers, and the manager gives the ledgers as soon as he confirms their identities via telegram. They then trace their clue to a local graveyard, where they need the help of a gravedigger. Marasi is about to flash her badge again, but Wayne stops her and says that while authority worked on the bank manager, it would just make the gravedigger (who is running a less-than-legal graverobbing business) clam up. He then disguises himself as a criminal and her as his servant, and is chummy with the man within the hour.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Late Night with David Letterman featured comic skits called 'Do's and Don't's with Frank and Fred'. Fred is a polite, responsible, well-groomed young man who works hard and treats women with respect. Frank is an obnoxious, disheveled, spiky-haired man who regularly commits perverted acts against women, torments his co-workers, and is generally a nuisance and danger to everyone around him.
  • Cruelly parodied in a Saturday Night Live skit "Sexual Harassment and You" note , which showed Frank, an awkward and unattractive coworker, approaching women awkwardly but with perfectly innocent and non-sexual advances and getting a lawsuit or worse for it. Meanwhile, Greg is attractive and cocky, casually fondling women and approaching them in his underwear, and getting a far more positive response for it.
  • In World's Dumbest..., there was a parody of Goofus and Gallant with two criminals one who did things the wrong way (Doofus) and one who did things the right way (Valiant).
  • All That had sketches of “Life With Peter & Flem” (played by Kel Mitchell and Josh Server, respectively), which took Flem's wrong way to the next level.
    After watching a fine program, Peter turns off his television with the remote control. Flem uses a brick.
  • A strange 50's-style fantasy sequence in That '70s Show had "Doofus and Diligent" (Kelso and Eric, respectively) working at a fast-food restaurant. The segment was an Imagine Spot by Jackie’s dad, using minimal character exaggeration, to show why Eric got the job and Kelso didn’t. Jackie's dad intentionally (and rightly) framed her boyfriend Kelso as "Doofus". Eric, with the threat of his dad's foot up his ass, was of course "Diligent".
  • The original Mickey Mouse Club had a series of shorts hosted by Jiminy Cricket about safety entitled "I'm No Fool". Each episode ended with a contest between "You" and "a common, ordinary fool". "You" follows all safety precautions and wins, while the fool got nothing but Amusing Injuries.
  • In Home Improvement, Tim Taylor, on his Tool Time show, is considered to do this deliberately. He has gotten a few rewards for what they consider deliberately doing the wrong thing in contrast to his assistant Al, and showing what happens. Subverted in the Show Within a Show as they're both talented, but Tim is really just accident-prone.
  • Malcolm in the Middle: When Malcolm and Reese went to play bowling, their parents briefly wondered over which one of them took them to the bowling alley. The story then divided into two universes: one where Lois took them and one where Hal took them. Subverted in that neither outcome was the "right" outcome.
  • An early episode of Good Eats had Alton and his Evil Twin B.A. making spaghetti. Alton did it the right way, and B.A. did it the wrong way, resulting in a boilover and a bad texture. Later episodes simply have B.A. demonstrate a way of preparing a savory (usually spicy) version of a sweet recipe Alton does.
  • The children's show Romper Room had the duo Mr. Do-Bee and Mr. Don't Bee, as in "do this thing right" and "don't do this thing wrong."
  • Real Time with Bill Maher parodied Romper Room by having President Obama play the role of Do-Bee and his predecessor President Bush play Don't Bee, as a means of highlighting various policy mistakes by the latter which the former did right during his tenure.


    Theme Parks 
  • Men in Black: Alien Attack at Universal Studios Florida has an instructional cartoon in the queue line that's known as "Doofus and Do-Right", which depicts Doofus, who can never do anything correctly, and Do-Right, who always knows the proper MIB rules.

    Video Games 
  • BioShock Infinite:
    • An in-game example in Duke and Dimwit (pictured above), a pair of young boys frequently featured in Columbian propaganda throughout the game, from posters to penny arcade machines. The twist is that the pair are for educating children in the extremely screwed-up morality of Columbia (best described as "North Korea meets Gilded Age Eagleland, with horrific cyborgs").
      Are you a Duke or a Dimwit?
    • Burial at Sea introduces Rapture's answer to Duke and Dimwit, Ryan the Lion and Peter the Parasite, a thinly-veiled reference to Andrew Ryan, the founder of Rapture (who Peter refers to is anyone's guess, they probably just needed something to alliterate with "Parasite").
  • In Lyn's normal-mode story of Fire Emblem: The Blazing Blade, Sain and Kent take this role to explain the game mechanics. Sain charges at axe-wielding bandits with a lance (it looks more heroic!) so Kent can tell him he should have used a sword. Sain admits he didn't actually bring a sword, so Kent gets to explain the item-trading system. Sain whiffs against a bandit hiding in the forest, Kent explains Geo Effects...
  • WarioWare: D.I.Y.: This is the approach for the tutorial for the game, in which Wario recklessly tries out the features of the game engine forming the core of the game, upon which Penny will demonstrate how to use it correctly. Occasionally, Wario will misinterpret what Penny means and not get the results he wants, upon which Wario gets nervous and Penny has to correct him. A downplayed example, however, in that Wario genuinely wants to understand the engine and eventually picks up on everything Penny teaches him. Wario is also a better artist than Penny and is able to demonstrate a few things himself that Penny cannot, such as artistic shortcuts unrelated to using the engine.
  • In Wasteland 3, Peek and Poke are a Big Guy, Little Guy pair of robots that illustrate the various skills and statistics for the player characters, much like the iconic Vault Boy in the Fallout series. In-universe, however, they're from a series of wartime cartoons where they're an example of this trope.

    Web Animation 
  • My Little Pony: Equestria Girls – Friendship Games Shorts: The short "Pinkie Spy" has Rainbow Dash and Pinkie Pie eavesdropping on the students at Crystal Prep Academy to prepare for the Friendship Games; while Rainbow does the more traditional stealthy method of hiding and being quiet, Pinkie tries more outlandish and conspicuous methods which could easily give them away, such as party balloons, a giant boom mic, and a pink camouflage suit.
  • In the Strong Bad Email "hygiene", Strong Bad makes a PSA on the subject of hygiene, contrasting "popular rich kid Gene" (modeled after Strong Bad himself) and "cruddy fifth-grader John" (named after the guy who asked Strong Bad to make a PSA in the first place). The PSA goes off the rails as Strong Bad forgets to have Gene actually model any good behavior, instead describing how awesome Gene's life is because he has rich parents. Then he subverts it at the end: John goes to an out-of-state college and turns his life around, while Gene suffers under the pressure of his own reputation, knowing that if he slips up once, his "friends" will tear him apart like ravenous wolves.
  • The Twins (2022): Invoked by Lucas, who rats on Lake all of the time for the most minor of infractions to make him a Deliberately Bad Example in the eyes' of their teacher so that he'll look better in comparison. By the end of the short, Lake has had enough and calls him out on it.
  • A parody of this is done regarding driving habits in the flash "Yes and No: A Dyseducational Road Film", where the red car is the "wrong" one and the green car is the "right" one. Unlike most examples, the "right" option involves bad things and inconveniences happening to that person.

  • In Nobody Scores!, Sara invokes this trope when she tries to pick up a guy by contrasting her career-focused, responsible, socially adept behaviour point-by-point with that of her unemployable, shiftless, insane roommate Jane... who ends up walking off with the guy because she likes to wrestle.
  • In Gunnerkrigg Court, the real-life medieval tales that pit the cunning, tricky Reynardine against the gullible, foolish and brutish Ysengrin are said to be part of why Ysengrin hates humanity so much, especially since he feels misrepresented by them in-universe.
  • In Kill Six Billion Demons, the characters Maya and Incubus were, in their youth, taken on as students by the legendary but eccentric Master Swordsman Meti after much pestering. She trained them together and taught them the same lessons, but with the implication that she only accepted the latter in order to show the former what not to do. The latter learned Meti’s lessons to the letter, and used his skill to become a worlds-conquering warlord. Maya, however, picked up on the spirit of Meti’s lessons, and while she also became a worlds-conquering warlord (implied to be far mightier than her counterpart), she ended up disillusioned with the kind of power you earned with swordpoint and abdicated to become a beggar, just like Meti, and regrets ever picking up a sword in the first place (also just like Meti). In the comic, Incubus consistently wields and uses a sword in ways that Meti's sword manual says one should ''not'' do.
  • Parodied with the Virgin vs. Chad meme. An image of the "Virgin Walk" was posted to 4chan, supposedly showing the signs of a shy loser "Virgin" character and their typical walking habits. In response, a parody counterpart for the successful alpha "Chad" character was created to invert every described trait to an absurd degree. These images side by side have formed the template for depicting a normal yet reserved character and their "superior" counterpart, whether said "superiority" is ironic or genuine.

    Web Original 
  • The Art of Manliness has an adult variation of Goofus and Gallant (called Dim and Dash) in order to display proper male etiquette.
  • The French webseries "Graie Méli Mélo" uses this setup to answer common questions about water treatment, using two actors best known for their parts in Kaamelott. Unfortunately, while the "Wrong Way" guy is just as ignorant and clueless as his character on the show, the effect is tarnished by the fact that the "Right Way" guy's character is an Inept Mage specializing in getting his facts wrong.
  • I'm a Marvel... And I'm a DC's original videos used the same mechanic as the “I’m A Mac / I’m A PC” commercials, as “I’m A Marvel / I’m A DC to show the right (later Marvel films, Batman) and wrong (earlier Marvel films, everything else DC) way to make a film series around similar concepts. As ItsJustSomeRandomGuy is a fan of both companies, the jabs were fairly lighthearted. Except for the stupidity that was the kryptonite mountain.
  • The Zero Punctuation review of Alone in the Dark (2008) had a pair with Terry and Gonad, with Terry presenting interesting gaming concepts while Gonad finds ways to make those concepts either inconvenient or downright unusable.

    Western Animation 
  • The Private Snafu shorts were made for this. Snafu did it wrong, then went back and did it right (that is, if he managed to avoid getting his stupid ass killed, which happened a few times and was intended to show soldiers the consequences of being inattentive/irresponsible). Except in "Booby Traps", where doing it right was the wrong thing to do.
  • Animaniacs had shorts of "Good Idea, Bad Idea", although one character demonstrates both ideas. Good Ideas are usually simple, practical, unimportant everyday things, while Bad Ideas are hilariously useless or dangerous to the user. More found on the Other Wikiquote.
    Good Idea: Buying a pair of shoes on sale.
    Bad Idea: Buying a parachute on sale.
  • Duck from Thomas & Friends holds the philosophy that there are two ways of doing things - The Great Western Way and the wrong way, and the Great Western Way implies that he works diligently without fuss. This was into play in "The Thomas Way" where Duck informs Thomas that the Great Western Way is to take Harold to the repairs without showing him the sights of Sodor which is a distraction from their work. Deconstructed as both methods cause "confusion and delay" and they end up Taking A Third Option.
  • American Dad!:
    • Done a few times with Stan and Francine in terms of providing for the family, with Stan's overzealous extremist (and occasionally psychotic) approach pretty much always making him the Wrong Way guy.
    • Deconstructed in a handful of instances where they're both wrong; the prime example is an episode where Stan clones Steve so they can see who's the better parent. Stan's Drill Sergeant Nasty parenting turns his Steve into a violent psychopath who kills (and eats) stray cats, while Francine's spineless babying makes her Steve become a spoiled, overweight slob who pushes her around.
  • SpongeBob SquarePants:
    • The episode "Krusty Krab Training Video" compared Workaholic SpongeBob and Lazy Bum Squidward as respective good and bad employees.
    • The reversed order is done in "Boat Smarts" with good driver Squidward getting injured, while bad driver SpongeBob makes it through with hardly a scratch.
  • The Foster's Home for Imaginary Friends TV movie "Destination: Imagination" use Frankie and Mr. Herriman as the right and wrong one respectively. When World does wrong, Frankie is stern but firm with him, and explains to him the consequences of his actions, which makes him feel remorseful for his actions but happy that Frankie understands and forgives him; Herriman, on the other hand, harshly scolds him on the spot and threatens him with the harsh punishment of separating him and Frankie forever, which causes him to have a panic attack and go One-Winged Angel on the gang.
  • The whole point of I Am Weasel, with Weasel as the practically-perfect person and Baboon who fouls up everything he comes near.
  • This trope plays a significant role in Cartoon Network's Regular Show, with Rigby being the lazy, sloppy buffoon and Mordecai being more intelligent and hard-working. Mordecai rarely makes Benson angry on his own; it's usually Rigby who makes Benson angry at both Mordecai and Rigby.
  • One episode of The Simpsons has Bart join The Jr. Campers to get his hands on a pocketknife. Before he can though, he has to read a safety book that, among good examples, also has Donny Don't. Don't do what Donny Don't does!
    Bart: They could have made this clearer.


Video Example(s):


Pinkie Spy

While Rainbow and Pinkie eavesdrop on the Crystal Prep students preparing for the Friendship Games, Pinkie's ways of spying are more conspicuous and are more likely to expose them.

How well does it match the trope?

4.11 (9 votes)

Example of:

Main / WithCatlikeTread

Media sources: