There's somethin' wrong with all you kids today
You just don't appreciate all the things you got
We were hungry, broke, and miserable
And we liked it fine that way!"
This is a Stock Phrase speech by any character denigrating modern kids, modern conveniences, modern behavior, modern anything, against the standards of the speaker's past. It doesn't matter how many conveniences or benefits are available now; the speaker of the When I Was Your Age rant will not waver in his view that "They Changed It, Now It Sucks!"
The most common version of this trope is for the speaker to criticize young people as having things easy compared to the hardships of the past; the When I Was Your Age rant almost always concludes that these advantages have made the young people of today soft, lazy, spoiled, or worse; the hardships gave people moral fiber.
This is a perennial favorite of the Grumpy Old Man or Racist Grandma, and is often played for comedy — expect to hear some variation of "I had to walk fifteen milesnote to school in the snow! Barefoot! Uphill! Both ways!"
This is not completely made up, though. This Trope is in fact Older Than Dirt, as it is at least 4,000 years old (and probably as old as mankind itself). Sociologists call this mindstate "juvenoia." If you were on the receiving end of this, chances are, you'll probably be on the other end of it with the younger generation.
Compare Screw Politeness, I'm a Senior!, While You Were in Diapers, Misery Poker, Imagined Innuendo, Glory Days (for a distorted view saying that their suffering makes their generation better than the current one), The Generation Gap.
- Spoofed in a series of AT&T U-verse commercials in which preteens lecture kids only a couple of years younger than them on how back in their day, they didn't have wireless TV and had to wait a full SIXTY SECONDS to download a song from the Internet.
- Played for Laughs in Doctor Slump when Senbei makes one such remark while witnessing Turbo (his infant son with the Psychic Power for Flight) and the Gatchans (Happily Adopted child-like beings with wings that allow them to fly) flying away to play.
Senbei: Nobody flew when I was a kid...
- Played for Laughs in Tentai Senshi Sunred, when Vamp and his Evil Organization Florsheim get competition from the Evil Organization Devil Eye Army and subsequently thrash the upstarts. Vamp, who is a traditionalist in the Evil Organization-biz, starts complaining that Devil Eye Army's aesthetics is an eyesore to their community and that back in his day, monsters knew not to hang around looking shady and upsetting residents.
- Benjamin J. Grimm of the Fantastic Four indulges in this from time to time, especially when comparing the undisciplined kids of today to the high-spirited teenagers of his youth. Ironically, due to Comic-Book Time, the generation at the young, disliked end of that comparison is now the generation at the old and reminiscing end.
- In Monica's Gang, Jimmy Five's father once told Jimmy that, with Jimmy's allowances, he once bought stuff for home. Jimmy then asked how his parents did to live off ice cream and sweets.
- The Three Caballeros: While complaining about how low his nephew's grades were, José Carioca told said nephew his grades were different back in his day. When said nephew asked how they used to be, José told the boy not to change the subject.
- Wonder Woman Vol 1: Dean Strikt disapproves of the bikinis and crop tops popular with the youth and by extension her students. On the couple of occasions she's shown in a bathing suit it's in a very old fashioned Victorian style one.
- Bequeathed from Pale Estates has a rare serious example. Tywin notes that back when he was Robert's age, the size of a tourney's purses were a mere fraction of what Robert offers for his own tourneys in the present. This complaint, however, is legitimate, as the Crown is currently in serious debt, and part of that is because Robert keeps on insisting on spending so much on tourneys, especially when he's throwing them constantly.
- Father Brainstorm of Calvin & Hobbes: The Series says this a lot.
"When I was your age, we didn't have all this fancy shiny techno-gear! Our servant rays were made out of straw and leather!"
- Calvin's dad also says this in the same episode.
- Played seriously in Chapter 8 of Brutal Harry where Dumbledore invokes the "In my time" variant, stating that while discipline could be harsh, abuse like what Harry underwent at the hands of the Dursleys would have been unthinkable. Uniquely for this trope, Dumbledore readily admits that times have changed, and that his Nostalgia Filter does not excuse his errors in judgment and the effect it has had on Harry.
- Beowulf (2007). An aging Beowulf grumbles to his young mistress that when he was her age, he thought being a king was all about fighting in the morning, counting the spoils in the afternoon, and bedding pretty women every night. Now that he is a king, it's not as fun as he imagined. She coaxes him into admitting that maybe the bedding is still fun.
- Chicken Run: Fowler incessantly carps on about his days at the Royal Air Force whenever he feels the chickens went out of line. Then when they build an airplane to escape, they expect Fowler to pilot, but then he reveals that he was only a mascot at the RAF, and never actually flew a plane. Ginger gives him an inspiring speech about how "today is your day" to get him into the cockpit.
- A Goofy Movie: Max tries to tell his dad that he can't go on a fishing trip since he's going to a party with his crush, only for Goofy to interrupt him with this:
Goofy: Oh, you'll have plenty of time for parties when you're older, Maxie. Why, when I was your age, I'd never even been invited to a party. Look at me now!
- The LEGO Movie: Lord Business's rant to Emmet is pretty much a copy and paste of editorials complaining about Millennials. "Well guess what. No one ever told me I was special! I never got a trophy just for showing up! I'm not some special little snowflake!"
- Back to the Future
- In Back to the Future, Lorraine (Marty's mother) chastised Linda (Marty's sister) for thinking that it's okay for girls to call boys, saying "when I was your age I never chased a boy or called a boy or sat in a parked car with a boy." Then Marty goes back in time and discovers that this was a great big lie.
- 47-year-old Marty pulls this on his son in a deleted scene of Back to the Future Part II, saying that when he was his age, when he wanted to watch two shows at once, he had to put two televisions next to each other.
- Interstellar has an interesting variation where the main character's father-in-law talks about how, back in his day, inventions were being made every day and laments the sterility of the times he lives in and how his son-in-law was born in the wrong era. The twist? The old man is from our age (possibly The New '10s), and it is justified in that the world in the future is undergoing an agricultural apocalypse, and it has gotten so bad that the Moon Landings being faked is taught at schools to direct more people to working crops.
- Done in My Big Fat Greek Wedding:
Maria Portokalos: "Nicko! Don't play with the food! When I was your age, we didn't have food!"
- In Pixels, Sam claims that games used to be harder in his times.
Just look at this! There's no pattern! He's always coming from the left!
- In The Princess Bride, the grandfather tells the kid at the beginning, "When I was your age, television was called books," before reading him the story.
- Star Trek: Insurrection: After Picard tells LaForge that something feels off about the Enterprise, LaForge finds a 12 micron misalingment in the torque sensors. LaForge is amazed that Picard was able to hear the misalingment. Picard responds that back when he was a young ensign he could hear a three-micron misalignment in torque sensors.
- A man told his son he didn't have TV back in his day. The son then asked him what his Dad forbade him from doing as discipline.
- Another joke has a grandparent make a Bait-and-Switch comment that begins like a comment about inflation:
When I was your age, my mom sent me to the store with a quarter and I came back with a loaf of bread, a bottle of milk, and a newspaper. But you can't do that anymore because there's too many surveillance cameras.
- Plenty of jokes abound about how much of today's generation will be doing the same thing in the future. In the flip side, plenty of jokes also abound about people of generations past (best effective if set, at least, a century in the past) being lectured by people older than them.
- There are also jokes about older people complaining about how too much of the younger generation(s) hold views that are more conservative than what they ever held.
- A father tells his son: "When Abe Lincoln was your age he walked 9 miles to school and did homework by candlelight!" The son responds: "When Abe Lincoln was your age, he was the President!"
- And Then I Turned Into a Mermaid: Aunt Maureen, who looks after the younger Seabrook sisters while Mum and Myla are out of town, is nasty and strict and thinks the younger generation is work-shy. When Molly tries to get off work due to a chest infection, Maureen says, 'When I was your age, I was down the mines every weekend, influenza or not.' Molly highly doubts this is true.
- In Cloak of Shadows Storm tried to inspire young Harpers complaining about having to rise early, then Elminster finished them off with a handful of tall tales:
Storm: What sort of Knights and Harpers is Faerun breeding these days? Why, when I was your age...
Sharantyr: I know, I know. [...] Then you had to run two miles to the river to bathe and draw enough water for all the horses to drink, run back with it, and get the axe to go out and chop firewood for the kitchen fires, before y—
Elminster: When I was your age, axes hadn't been invented yet. Nor horses. We walked everywhere to gather our firewood.
- Played for Laughs in Reaper Man, where the complaining is done by an elderly mayfly, complaining to the young'uns how much more light you got back when he was a lad (i.e., several hours ago). We had a proper sun, right up in the sky, none of this red nonsense. As a contrast, there's also a forest of extremely long-lived pine trees with a particularly old one saying that they had proper glaciers back in the day.
- Granny Weatherwax often does it when dealing with younger witches. In Equal Rites, when confronted with a crystal ball, she mutters "Never could get the hang of this damn silicon stuff. A bowl of water with a drop of ink was good enough when I was a girl." And in Wyrd Sisters her reaction to Magrat's New Age fripperies is "When I was a gel we had a lump of wax and a couple of pins and we had to be content. We had to make our own enchantment in them days." And in Witches Abroad, when she learns of a shortage of young girls who want to be witches, she blames it on "all this making your own entertainment. We never made our own entertainment when I was a girl. We never had time."
- In The Last Continent this is one of many ways the older wizards drive Ponder Stibbons mad. When unfocused time magic turns him into an old man, he's horrified to realise he wants to say "You should've seen the temporal disturbances we will have been used to be going to get in my day."
- Lu Tze's Diary of Enlightenment includes many aphorisms from the Way of Mrs Cosmopolite, with the responses of Seekers After Wisdom. These include:
Mrs Cosmopolite: Bored! How can you be bored? I was never bored at your age.
And, indeed, a browse through Mrs C's diaries from the years when she was your age show this to be true.
Mrs Cosmopolite: When I was your age I had to walk ten miles through the snow, uphill, by myself, every day, to go to school.
The Seeker: Did you really live less than a day's journey from a school?
- Both averted and played straight in Gone with the Wind, Scarlett is frantic about her finances and tells Rhett she wants to make money so her children, Wade and Ella, won’t have to scrimp like she had to after the War. Rhett replies that some hardship toughens people up. However, after his and Scarlett’s daughter, Bonnie, is born, he wants to make her path smooth. Rhett was always fond of Scarlett’s children, but things seemed a lot different once he had a child of his own.
- In the Warrior Cats series, an elder does this at a Gathering in Forest of Secrets, claiming that young cats nowadays don't know what hardship is.
- Played with by Shel Silverstein in his poem "When I Was Your Age".
My uncle said, "How old are you?"
I said, "Nine and a half," and then
My uncle puffed out his chest and said,
"When I was your age, I was ten."
- The Martian: Mark Watney realizes that being stuck on Mars gives him an amazing opportunity for this sort of thing.
Watney: I can't wait till I have grandchildren. "When I was younger, I had to walk to the rim of a crater. Uphill! In an EVA suit! On Mars, ya little shit! Ya hear me? Mars!"
- The Saga of the People of Vatnsdal: When Thorstein Ketilson is eighteen, his father (a former viking) chews him out for supposedly being a lazy coward for not going out and putting his life at risk for money and fame. Thorstein is so upset, he sets out all alone on a forest road preyed on by bandits, and ends up killing the highwayman Jokul. As he returns victoriously, he meets Ketil and his family looking for him, and Ketil admits that he has been regretting his tirade already.
"The behaviour of young men today is not what it was when I was young. In those days men hankered after deeds of derring-do, either by going raiding or by winning wealth and honour through exploits in which there was some element of danger. But nowadays young men want to be stay-at-homes, and sit by the fire, and stuff their stomachs with mead and ale; and so it is that manliness and bravery are on the wane."
- Spy School: In the first book Ben hijacks one of these speeches as part of a plan to get in trouble.
Principal: When I was a student here we knew how to behave. Would you like to know how we were punished for fighting back then?Ben: Wow, that would have been a long time ago. Did they put you in the stockade? They used that a lot in Colonial America.Principal: What did you just say?Ben: That you're old. Was I being too subtle for you?
- In Are You Being Served?, Mrs. Slocombe will complain about a junior salesperson's behavior or attitude by stating, "When I was a junior ... ."
- The "Four Yorkshiremen" skit, originally from At Last the 1948 Show and later famous in the Monty Python's Flying Circus rendition. Starts out plausible, but quickly turns into a one-upping contest, until...
"You were lucky to have a lake! There were 150 of us living in t' shoebox in t' middle o' road."
"And when we got home, our dad would kill us, and dance about on our graves, singing "Halleluja"!"
- Blue Bloods: A positive and somewhat subverted example occurs when Nicky manages to convince her mother Erin to let her stay out until 11 PM. In Nicky's defense, Erin's grandfather points out that he was "out on an aircraft carrier in the Pacific at her age!"
- Variation in CSI Brass and someone else are investigating a guy who died while playing video games. When they go to question people at a tournament, Brass, a Vietnam veteran, spots a kid playing a Shoot 'Em Up type game.
Brass: When I was their age, I was in a real jungle, using a real gun, fighting a real war.
- Happens briefly in this The Daily Show segment. Stephen Colbert tries to outdo an interviewee's impoverished upbringing with "Did you have floors?"
- From Dinosaurs:
Earl: "When I was your age we didn't have lawn mowers, we didn't have scissors, we had to get down on all fours and graze like a cow."
- Mrs. Brown's Boys gives us this subversion:
Mrs. Brown: When I was a kid, my mum would send me to the shop with 50p. I could get meat, eggs, milk, a comic and a pair of jeans. Can't do that nowadays. Feckin' CCTV!
- In the The Horror of Party Beach episode of Mystery Science Theater 3000, Mike and the Bots sing a 50s-style song to educate "the young people" about sodium (It Makes Sense in Context). After it's over, Crow goes into a non-angry version of this ("...with your pierced I-don't-know what...")
- Subverted in one episode of Mama's Family where Bubba asks Mama for $15 to take a date to the movie. Mamma gets upset about the price, then starts to tell Bubba how her dates with her (deceased) husband were cheaper, then starts to explain one said date in detail... Then she remembers exactly what they did on that date, and gives Bubba thirty dollars quickly, telling him to enjoy the movie.
- Our Miss Brooks: In "Blue Goldfish", Miss Brooks is delegated to ask Mr. Conklin to raise the heat in the school. Mr. Conklin subjects Miss Brooks to a lecture about how soft people have gotten, unable to stand a little "fresh air." Mr. Conklin laments that Americans are no longer able to live up to the example set by George Washington at Valley Forge. An example of Hypocritical Humor, the only reason Mr. Conklin is able to stand the cold is that he's sitting on a heating pad.
- Pawn Stars: If you watch this show, you can make a drinking game out of how often the Old Man says "back in the day."
- In one of the "Bridget and Eamonn" sketches on The Republic of Telly, Typical Irishman Eamonn has this to say about Christmas
- Mr. Noseworthy of Radio Active: "I remember when I was your age..." is pretty much his Catchphrase.
- The Sarah Jane Adventures episode "Enemy of the Bane" gives us an unusually awesome example: The Brigadier gives one such lecture to a cheeky major who has the balls to suggest that they had it easier back in the old days.
- Saturday Night Live's "Weekend Update" segments in the late 1980s would regularly feature Dana Carvey's "Grumpy Old Man" delivering one of these as a commentary. He'd always glamorize the past even as he described it in the most horrific terms.
"Everything today is improved and I don't like it. I hate it! In my day we didn't have hair dryers. If you wanted to blow dry your hair you stood outside during a hurricane. Your hair was dry but you had a sharp piece of wood driven clear through your skull and that's the way it was and you liked it! You loved it. Whoopee, I'm a human head-kabob! We didn't have Manoxidol and Hair Wings, in my day if your hair started falling out when you were 16, by 19 you were a bald freak. There was nothing you could do about it. Children would spit at you and nobody would mate with you so you couldn't pass on your disgusting baldness genes. You were a public menace, a chromedome by age 20 and that's the way it was and we liked it! We loved it! Hallelujiah look at me, I'm a bald freak, O happy day!"
- And about a decade later, Garth Brooks played another such character on the fake game show Who's More Grizzled? ("When I was your age, we didn't call our elders by their Christian names.")
- Bobby Moynihan's Drunk Uncle character sometimes gets into this, or at least you figure that's where it would be headed if he could form a coherent sentence.
- Thanks: When Cotton asks Grammy about how to have a happy marriage, she insults his generation for always looking for happiness. She says, "When I was your age, happiness hadn't even been invented yet. On a good day, you had despair, and you were glad to have it."
- Shakey Graves' song "Kids these days" discusses this trope, with the song pointing out how the adult isn't necessarily wrong about how how foolish the younger generation can be, just hypocritical because the adults acted in the same live in the moment way in their youth that they're mocking today's generation about. The video shows Shakey Graves and his band dressed up as Hair Metal rockers and acting out 80s/90s hedonism to accentuate the point.
- Frank Hayes wrote When I Was A Boy, which is When I Was Your Age for the IT industry. It Culminates with
And we did all our coding in 1's and in 0's, and sometimes we ran out of 1's!
- George Hrab's When I Was Your Age is a mild version, culminating in a similar view.
- This is the subject of "Weird Al" Yankovic's song, "When I Was Your Age", where the singer lectures a much-younger listener about the singer's Hilariously Abusive Childhood, including how his father would "cut me into pieces and play Frisbee with my brain," with the singer's insistence that he never complained about any of it.
Every night for dinner, we had a big old chunk of dirt / If we were really good, we didn't get dessert!
Nobody ever drove me to school when it was 90 degrees below / Had to walk butt naked, through forty miles of snow!
- Discussed in Bon Jovi's "Wild in the Streets" in the line: "And the silent soldiers sing their midnight blues / While the old men discuss their storylines 'bout 'When I was young like you...'"
- Spoofed in a Calvin and Hobbes strip in which Calvin imagines himself as Spaceman Spiff being hauled off to a torture chamber by disgusting aliens. Spiff is surprised to find himself in an exact replica of his parents' living room, and one of the aliens announces that Spiff will be subjected to "a calm discussion of wholesome principles." The next panel shows a Big "NO!" from Calvin in the "real world" as his father spouts various Standard '50s Father cliches. ("Yes, life is tough and suffering builds character! Nothing worth having ever comes easy! Virtue is its own reward" - and then the Trope Namer.)
- From Dilbert:
Programmer: When I started programming we didn't have any of these sissy "icons" and "windows". All we had were zeros and ones — and sometimes we didn't even have ones. I wrote an entire database program using only zeros.Dilbert: You had zeros? We had to use the letter "O".
- A prehistoric installment of The Far Side has a Grumpy Old Caveman grumbling: "Back in my day, we used every goldang part of a mammoth!"
- Garfield: When he had Jon's age, Jon's Dad was already married and had a kid. Jon's reply ("Yeh, me") prompted him to state it was a good argument but he still thought Jon should get married.
- Inverted in a Mafalda strip where she comments with Miguelito how it dawned on her that the twenty-something year olds of today who complain about the older generations nagging them, will be the ones to nag on her generation tomorrow. Hilarity ensues.
- One Robotman and Monty started with a panel of a kid fighting a holographic dragon, while his grandfather lectures him about how back in his day they just had video games, and players had to use their imaginations. Subsequent panels do the same for television to video games, and down through radio, books, and so on until the final panel of a cave-grandpa grunting at his spoiled grandson playing with those newfangled rocks and sticks.
- In The Simpsons Pinball Party, Grampa Simpson will occasionally utter, "Back in my day, we didn't HAVE flippers!"note
- This is played with in "A Beary Bear Christmas" from Bear in the Big Blue House. When Jack overhears that the kids of the Big Blue House are having trouble thinking of a present for Bear, he tells them that when he was a pup, one had to walk miles and miles just to get to the store. "You did that?!" ask the kids, amazed, and he admits that no, he didn't. He and his friends made gifts for their parents and they loved them all the same.
- In Lum and Abner, any time Lum prepares to give a speech he invariably talks about being a "barefoot kid of a boy" having to walk several miles to school in the snow.
Cedric: I like to hear Mr. Lum's speeches, so's I can hear how many miles and how many feet of snow it is this time.
- Apparently, Louie Anderson's father was always telling his kids how tough he had it. "When I was a kid, we didn't have [Christmas tree stands]! We had to take turns holdin' that tree!" "When I was a kid, we didn't have schools! I had to find smart people and follow 'em around!" note And Louie ponders: "What are we gonna tell our kids? 'I didn't get cable till I was 12!'"
- Bill Cosby has a stand-up routine about grandparents where he talked about how grandfathers always talk about how much tougher they had it in their day, especially about how they had to walk to school in the snow. He mentions a friend whose grandfather spent his entire life in San Juan, Puerto Rico, and still claimed that he had to walk to school in the snow.
- From Bill Cosby: Himself:
Bill Cosby: My father walked to school. Four o'clock every morning. With no shoes on. Uphill. Both ways. In five feet of snow. And he was thankful! (pause) I asked my father to give me a dollar for the school picnic, and he told me how he killed a grizzly bear with his loose-leaf notebook.
- From Bill Cosby: Himself:
- One of ventriloquist Jeff Dunham's puppets, Walter, similar to Bill Cosby's father, uses this as part of an Escalating Punchline:
Walter: When I was young I had to walk five miles to get a condom! Uphill. In the snow. With a boner.
- British comedian Bill Bailey warns his audience that they'll do the same thing, telling their kids that their mother had to load the dishwasher by hand, and they had to point the remote control and push a button to change the TV channel.
- The Unhinged Parody set of Magic: The Gathering has Old Fogey and its accompanying flavor text.
These kids today with their collector numbers and their newfangled tap symbol. Twenty Black Lotuses and 20 Plague Rats. Now that's real Magic.
- The card's nine abilities are all old discontinued mechanics from previous Magic expansions.
- In Warhammer, this combined with Seen It All was why Dwarf Longbeards were immune to Panic tests. Because back in their day, Orcs were proper monsters, not these weedy little things that wouldn't pass for Goblins back then, when they had to march uphill through snow for miles just to get to the battlefield, and of course no one complained because Dwarfs were real Dwarfs in those days, and had quality weapons, not the shoddy things that modern Engineers try to pass off as wargear... Similarly, nearby dwarfs can reroll some failed tests because they last thing they want is for the Longbeards to turn their attentions to them and start complaining on how the young'uns have no moral fiber these days.
- West Side Story:
Doc: Why, when I was your age—
Action: When you was my age; when my old man was my age; when my brother was my age! You was never my age, none of you! The sooner you creeps get hip to that, the sooner you'll dig us.
- In The Adventures of Willy Beamish, Willy's father Gordon is nudging him into doing his chores in order to receive his allowance, and he starts to tell a story of this nature, but Willy shuts him down.
Gordon: You know, when I was a boy...
Willy: I've heard that story a million times.
- Done by Cranky Kong in the Donkey Kong Country series rather frequently.
Cranky: Look at all these buttons! Back in MY day, kids were ecstatic if we gave them two of 'em to press! And these colors! We only had four shades of gray in a 2x2 character block, and we were happy! And we never had any of this fancy 3-D stuff, either! No, we had to survive on what we had! And what little we did have, we were happy with! Look!...look at this!...as I rock, my beard swings! Waste of frames in my opinion! Well, I've never seen anything like it!
- Dragon Quest VII has Grandma Pendragon complain bitterly about how the Lefans are becoming overreliant on the BlissRock, which keeps ideal levels of wind constantly circulating through Gorges. She insists that it's more important to mantain the Fane, and is proven right when the wind stops entirely, stranding all the Lefans on their backs.
- EverQuest added into the game an NPC "Old Man McKenzie". The official description of him is:
"Old Man McKenzie, a frequent patron of the taverns in the Plane of Knowledge, thinks you adventurers have it too easy these days! Back in his day they didn't have all this fancy armor and magical weaponry, they relied on their wits and not a little luck to survive! Think you've got what it takes to survive in McKenzie's Gold era?"
- In Final Fantasy V, Faris needles Galuf about his reluctance to cross the Desert of Shifting Sands. He responds "When I was your age, we crossed burning sand every day—and we liked it!"
- In the finale of the Guild Wars Beyond: War In Kryta storyline, you can see a group of old men complaining about how the victory was hardly heroic by their standards, mocking actions taken by the developers in reducing difficulty and adding controllable "hero" characters.
Antwyn: Hah? These young'ns call this a final battle? Back in my day, we didn't have these newfangled Asuran magics to protect us from Spectral Agony. We just had to tough it out. Kids these days don't know how good they've got it!
Jorith: I remember the day you had to walk fifteen miles uphill in the Shiverpeaks, then kill a spectral abomination just to get one piece of armor infused! And we liked it that way!
Carden: That's nothing! You wouldn't be sitting here if me and my two buddies hadn't killed the Lich Lord twice while he was on the bloodstone. And we did it without help from any fancy pants heroes.
- In one level in Halo 2, Sergeant Johnson gives this speech:
When I was in the corps, we didn't have any fancy-schmancy tanks. We had STICKS! Two sticks, and a rock for the whole platoon! And we had to share the rock! So buck up, 'cause you're one lucky Marine.
- Played for Laughs in The Lost Vikings. If the player fails a level 16 times, the voice of Thor comes out and admonishes the titular trio of Vikings for their repeated failures. It degenerates when the heroes start poking holes in Thor's story.
- Mass Effect: Andromeda: Nakmor Drack starts doing this in a conversation with Vetra. Seeing this one coming, she starts begging him not to say "uphill both ways".
Drack: Turians didn't used to be some damn lippy, either.
- Taizo Hori (aka Dig Dug) rambles about this when he feels overshadowed by the popularity of his son Susumu (aka Mr. Driller).
Susumu is all they ever talk about these days! I'M the first driller and the honorary chairman. I was about his age when I wrapped the Dig Dug incident all by myself! My drilling skills are second to none, and certainly not Susumu!
- In Overwatch, Soldier: 76 will occasionally comment when on the attack on a payload map, "Back in my day, we'd have this payload delivered already!"
- Pajama Sam in No Need to Hide When It's Dark Outside: When Sam first enters the Land of Darkness, one of the things the player can click on is a tree root that shapes itself into an old man with a long beard. The root will then say such things as "Back in my day, we had Pong. Now there was a video game." and the contradictory "Back in my day, they didn't even have video games."
- Sleeping Dogs Sifu Kwok has strong opinions on the Good Old Ways of honour and piety vanishing, and young men just wanting to learn kung fu to join The Triads and the Tongs. The game, contrary to expectations, invites the player to sympathise, rather than write it off as a Grumpy Old Man's ramblings.
- StarCraft II: The Protoss Immortal has this to say when clicked on enough: "Back in my day, I had to teleport to and from school in the snow, uphill, both dimensions!"
- Each of the three Hag Sisters in Super Paper Mario has their own rambling rant to go on if you refuse to do a favor for them, of the "we respected our elders" variety. Hagnes's subverts this, however.
Hagnes: Eh?! You know, I heard that young'uns these days do not respect their elders... Hmph! Why, back in my day... Back in my day... Come to think of it, I gave my elders nothing but grief in my day! I guess we really do reap what we sow... Well, life kind of makes sense now.
- In Tak and the Power of Juju, Jibulba tells Tak not to complain to go after one hundred magic Yorbels to resurrect Lok; when he was a young man, it used to take ten thousand Yorbels to do a resurrection spell.
- In the Team Fortress 2 supplemental comics, the Demoman's mother criticizes him for being too lazy and discriminating with the jobs he takes (despite working three jobs, making 5 million dollars in a single year, and living in a mansion); apparently his father, Tavish, had to work 26 jobs at once to make a living, still found time to teach his son the Family Business, and apparently once walked 15 miles through the rain to blow up the Queen of England... For a nickel.
- In Yakuza 4, retired detective Date has his Grumpy Old Man poke out when he first meets Tanimura and helps patch him up after a fight. When Tanimura winces from the pain, Date complains that the police force nowadays is full of babies. Tanimura gets his own back in the finale, where he complains about how old-timers like Date will spend all their time yapping away once they get past 40.
- In Katawa Shoujo, Jigoro Hakamichi, Shizune's father, does this repeatedly, even when his complaints are false (claiming that Yamaku students don't have cleaning duty) or exceptionally petty (bringing up the ratio of desks to student council members, and claiming his student council met in less luxurious conditions).
- Merlin does it in the bonus panel to this Arthur, King of Time and Space strip.
- Played for Laughs in this strip of Brawl in the Family.
Cranky: Oh, look who's come crawling back for advice, even though things are easier than ever! Why don't you ask your newfangled super guide for help? Back in my day, we had to play through the levels ourselves! And this controller-shaking thing? We didn't need fancy doodad-filled remotes... four buttons, that's all we had! Also, what's the big deal about playing simultaneously nowadays? When I was younger, we had to be tagged in to play...!
Beat as Cranky tags in an ape just offscreen
Elderly Diddy Kong: ...And by gum, Junior, we liked it!
- In the second Dumbing of Age strip, Joyce's dad looks round her dorm room and says that when he was at college they assembled their beds out of boards they found on the street, and if you wanted to use the internet, you had to leave the dorm, take the elevator down to the lobby, and then invent the internet.
- Girl Genius:
- Zeetha complained about "novices today!". Why, when she was trained ...
- Mechanicsburg, a city ruled by fifty generations of Mad Scientists, is home to centuries-old mummified "crypt masters". Here's how they react to an attempted political kidnapping:
Crypt Master 1: TCH. KIDS TODAY - DON'T EVEN RECOGNIZE THEIR HETERODYNE ... SHOCKING.
Crypt Master 2: KNOW WHAT I BLAME? I BLAME THAT NEW DANCE MUSIC -
Crypt Master 1: IF YOU CAN CALL IT THAT. HEH. POLKA DOTTY, I CALLS IT.
Crypt Master 2: HO! GOOD ONE!
- In a The Hero of Three Faces strip, Luke Skywalker claims that due to the tidal effects of a double sun on sand, the route from Uncle Owen's farm to his school really was uphill both ways - the dunes shifted during the day.
- Mario & Luigi: Cleanup Crew: The Toad Minister.
When I served the royal family, we did without such silly things as "lunch breaks" or "steady pay".
- The dirt farmer's husband (who apparently used to be an adventurer) gives it a RPG Mechanics 'Verse twist in this The Order of the Stick strip.
Of course, you kids today with your crazy internally-consistent skills system. Back in my day we just had Nonweapon Proficiencies and we liked 'em! And we would walk uphill in the snow to OUR dungeons, both ways!
- In Schlock Mercenary, General Karl Tagon talks about the days before the teraport, which Kathryn immediately calls out as a cliche.
Kathryn: Did you just play the "I walked uphill both ways to school" card?
General Tagon: Bliss Hive's gravity generators were flaky, so they cycled 'em mid-shift. It actually was uphill both ways.
Kathryn: Unless you walked in the snow, I don't care.
- Slightly Damned: Dakos the fire demon complains that Iratu's use of complex plans, working in groups and allying with rogue angels are unnatural for demons and even refers to the younger demons as a "generation of cripples"'
- Subnormality parodies the "Uphill Both Ways" line in this comic. Turns out it is possible to walk to school and back uphill both ways, if you have a ridiculously tall house.
- Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal recommends remembering when your age is twice your kid's age plus 9 months to say "When I was your age, I was doing Your Mom."
- Referenced in one of the old Angelfire webhost error messages, which read something along the lines of "when I was your age, the Internet had only four pages..." "Sure, Grandpa…" followed by the 404 message.
- Referenced by John Cheese in a Cracked article when he says that, when parents talk about not having video games or Internet and playing outside when they were young, he notes that they only played outside because they had nothing better to do (video games were too expensive and there was nothing good on TV).
- The entire point of this article, where he outlines all of the things that modern kids and teenagers won't understand about technology and culture from only a few years ago. Unlike most examples, he actually seems happy that his kids won't grow up with all the frustrations he had to endure.
- Beautifully subverted by The Onion (naturally), which mocked baseball's tendency to glorify the past with In My Day, Players Were For Shit. The elderly columnist waxes rhapsodic about such legendary players as "Walter 'Shitty Batter' Dugan. They called him that because he was a real shitty batter."
- Played for Laughs in ProtonJon's 4-player Battletoads race, where PCULL 44444 gives us this gem, succumbing to Yet Another Stupid Death shortly afterwards:
Pcull: Back in my day, we didn't have infinite lives I FELL OFF!
- "If Quake was done today" video by Kai Moosmann (mocking hints for hopeless morons):
When I was your age, we rocket jumped all the way to school uphill, both ways... IN BOILING LAVA
- Josh Hadley will often go on this kind of rant on Radiodrome.
- This SMBC Theater sketch.
- In Walking in Circles Krag's father Horace tries to claim they didn't have weapons when he was Krag's age. Krag then points out that the hammer he carries used to be Horace's.
- In Yu-Gi-Oh! The Abridged Series, Grandpa Mutou is an expert at giving these, culminating in The Movie with the following rant:
"This never would've happened when I was a boy! You kids these days and your Millennium Items and your Card Games and your loud music and your hula hoops and your hopscotch and your dungarees and your lollipops and your Sony PlayStations and your voice-activated light switches and your leather pants and your artificial insemination..."
"...your Blu-Ray Discs and your pierced scrotums and your bull frogs and your telekinesis and your Marvel Comics and your YouTube.com and your nuclear physics and your ingrowing toenails and your Gears of War and your Quentin Tarantino and your power steering and your elevators and your illegitimate offspring and your... Hey, why did it Fade to Black? Am I dead?"
- It was even picked up again after the credits:
- As seen in the opening for Scott The Woz's New Play Control! for Wii episode:
"Kids these days have it so easy, they only have to walk 20 miles in the snow to go to school. Oh yeah, well, I had to battle leprosy."
- Door Monster did a Pokémon parody with two elderly Team Rocket members complaining about, and picking fights with, the villains from newer Pokemon games, who are represented by stereotypical Millenials and Gen Z-ers.
- The Today I Found Out Youtube channel's episode about school buses starts by saying that in the 1800s, most children got to school by walking "uphill both ways through a snowstorm."
- In an episode of The Adventures of Jimmy Neutron, Boy Genius, Jimmy, Carl and Sheen accidentally turn themselves old and fall into this.
Sheen: When I was a kid the sky was bluer, and a quarter would get you groceries for a week.
- Animaniacs: In Episode 44, one of the useless facts Yakko tells the viewers is that termites can live to be 50 years old. He then sees an elderly termite telling his grandchildren, "Why, when I was a young termite, we used to have to walk 50 miles in the snow with no shoes for a good piece of wood. Not like you kids today!"
- A variation shows up in Batman Beyond, after Bruce shuts down the cave's high-tech systems to keep out a hostile AI:
Bruce: I had to shut down the computer when Vance's program tried to get in. If you want out of the cave, you're going to have to do it the old-fashioned way.
(he points to a big steel door with a manual winch)
Terry: You're kidding.
Bruce: None of the Robins ever complained.
- The Codename: Kids Next Door episode "Operation: S.P.A.N.K.E.N.S.T.I.N.E." has Numbuh Two's grandmother Lydia and Count Spankulot ramble on how they had to eat things like packing peanuts and tadpoles for dessert when they were younger.
- In one episode of Darkwing Duck, Goslyn claimed that Darkwing once pulled that - right after he pointed out a building as his childhood school... and the house next door as his childhood home. Then again, over the course of the series, Darkwing clearly demonstrates Multiple-Choice Past, at least one of which involved Drake obviously making stuff up on the spot.
- Timmy's paternal grandfather in The Fairly Oddparents is quite fond of the trope. His first non-flashback line was a rant about how he doesn't like things as how they're today when compared to what they used to be.
- On Franklin, when Franklin first went to school, he was told that his father, instead of taking a bus, had to walk two and half miles to school and back, even in the rain and the snow. His parents didn't go so far as "uphill both ways," though.
- Gravity Falls: In "The Love God", after Grunkle Stan's crappy home-made hot air balloon crashes into the Woodstick festival and causes chaos, Stan remarks "What's everyone crying about? In my day, zeppelins fell from the sky like raindrops!"
- Jorel's Brother: Parodied. Mr. Edson once tells his son, Jorel's brother, that when he was his age, he was also eight.
- Looney Tunes: In "Norman Normal", Norman goes to his father for help dealing with a moral dilemma, but Norman's dad just rambles about how as a kid he had to walk ten miles through blinding snow to a one-room schoolhouse, and how he struggled to find work after college during the Great Depression.
- The Ren & Stimpy Show: During the "Stimpy's Breakfast Tips" bumper, Ren rants to Stimpy for opening a new cereal box before finishing the last one.
Ren: You know how lucky you are we even have cereal?! Why, when I was your age, we ate wood and rocks!
- Rugrats had Tommy's Grandpa Lou and his stories, frequently invoking and emphasizing "fifteen [something]" in them. It got to the point where others in the family would have retorts ready:
Lou: In my day dinosaurs didn't skate around with a bunch of ninnies in tights!
- His son Stu, in Reptar on Ice:
Stu: In his day the dinosaurs were REAL.
Lou: In my day, we had no use for antiques.
- Stu's wife Didi in "Mirrorland":
Didi: But, Pop, I thought in your day, there were no antiques.
Lou: In my day, we had plenty of fun just throwing rocks at each other.Boris: Well, I have a tale for you, Mr. Fifteen Years! 52 Pickup! [flicks a deck of cards at him]
- Tommy's other grandfather, Didi's father Boris:
- The Simpsons:
"Homer, When I was your age, that would be the future, because you're older than me."
- Grandpa Abe Simpson is fond of these. There's a bit of a subversion of it in "Lisa vs. Malibu Stacy" when he complains about how when he was a kid toys were built to last, while modern ones break "as soon as they come out of the box". He tries demonstrating, but actually has to put in a lot of strenuous effort to damage the toy.
- Another episode played with this, where Homer's friend Carl has a chat with him.
"When I was your age, I wanted an electric football game more than anything in the world. And my parents bought it for me, and it was the happiest day of my life."
- Homer puts a twist on it in "Marge Be Not Proud", when Bart is begging him and Marge to get him a new video game and they don't feel like spending the money:
Reporter: What's your name, son?Bart: I'm Bart Simpson, who the hell are you?Reporter: I'm Dave Shutton. I'm an investigative reporter who's on the road a lot and, uh, I must say that in my day, we didn't talk that way to our elders.Bart: Well, this is my day, and we do, sir.
- This example from season two's "Two Cars in Every Garage and Three Eyes on Every Fish" encapsulates the spirit of early-era The Simpsons:
Homer: Hey, when I was your age, 50 cents was a lot of money.Bart: Really?Homer: Nah.
- In "Three Men and a Comic Book", Bart complains to Homer that he only earned 50 cents doing Mrs. Glick's gardening:
- Static Shock: In the third season finale, Blast From the Past, Static ends up teaming up with Soul Power, a retired Electric Black Guy superhero who was active in the 60s. He constantly talks about how much better things were "back in my day", much to Static's annoyance: cars were faster, supervillains had more style, girls were- whatever they were, Static interrupts him before he can finish.
- This was parodied in an episode of The Powerpuff Girls, it went something like this:
"Son, when I was your age, I was twelve."
- An episode of Jimmy Two-Shoes had Lucius noting, that when he was Beezy's age, he was more productive...at spreading misery.
- Wheel Squad: Jessica's mother berated her for her grades by claiming to have gotten better ones. Jessica then got her mother's old report cards to verify the claim.
- The X's: "You know, when I was your age, I was younger."
- The 2,500-Year-Old History of Adults Blaming the Younger Generation.
- Variant heard at VMI from cadets who had previously been enlisted servicemembers: "when I was in Kuwait, we had to walk three times as far to get to the bathroom."
- Very common among people playing video games. Those who complain about how easy today's games are or make fun of younger players that can't handle a difficult game are very likely to be someone who grew up on Nintendo Hard games. While games becoming easier isn't far from the truth, people that grew up on video games from the early days simply got better over time. The common counter-argument is that there's a difference between Nintendo Hard and Fake Difficulty, and a lot of old games dipped over into the latter.
- This also tends to come up in a more serious tone when discussing how things used to be regarding the oftentimes excessive monetization in games now vs then.
- Parents and grandparents going over how hard their journey to and from school was has become a meme. It is usually seen in the comments of Youtube videos of someone traversing a dangerous route, where someone comments "This is how my parents describe their journey to school".
Waldorf: Yeah, and we didn't have computers, so we had to write out all the examples by hand! By the time you were done you'd have a callus that could stop a .38!
Statler: I can't remember, did we like it that way?
Waldorf: Of course not! When have we ever liked anything?!