For some old people, looking back at their past achievements is not a sign they are over the hill, but a sign that they've been awesome all along, and that the awesome just compounded over the years. This trope comes into play with them saying to younger people that they were doing awesome things when those younger people were too young to do anything great, often in the form of "I was doing X while you were in diapers".
A common variation is a Long-Lived character stating "I was doing X while your ancestors were in diapers". Also, "I've forgotten more about X than you will ever know!"
Cultural Posturing often involves this kind of statement, except that it's "my culture was awesome when your culture was still banging rocks together!".
Contrast Glory Days.
- Kakuzu makes a point of reminding his opponents that he once fought the First Hokage - a man who's at LEAST seventy years dead. Essentially, he fought the most powerful shinobi to ever live before any of the protagonists were even born.
- Interestingly enough, the Edo Tensei reanimated Second Mizukage remembers Grumpy Old Man Ohnoki, the current Tsuchikage, from when he was a child. Though it only ever comes up three times Ohnoki fought Madara when he was a LOT younger and remembers the encounter with fear (it's implied that his fight with Madara is why he became a grumpy old shinobi as opposed to the Wide-Eyed Idealist he was in his youth)
- A variant occurs in Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha Strikers. Hayate, speaking with Auris Gaiz, suggests that Auris' superior, Lieutenant General Regius Gaiz, is somehow involved with the Jail Scaglietti incident. Auris then asks Hayate how long she has been with the Bureau, and the 19-year-old Hayate says she has been with them for 10 years. Auris then says that Regius has been in the Bureau for 40 years, and when Hayate was committing crimes to save her life during the Book of Darkness Incidentnote Regius was upholding the law and defending the people, implying Hayate has no right to question him.
- Batman comics and other adaptations often have Alfred invoke this trope. In the Justice League animated series, Alfred tells the Flash that he had been working for the Wayne family "since Master Bruce was in diapers", and on several occasions when Batman brushes off Alfred's assistance or gets frustrated with him, Alfred is quick to remind Master Bruce that he was an MI-6 agent before he was born.
Batman: You think you know everything about me, don't you?
Alfred: I diapered your bottom. I bloody well ought to. Sir.
- In the DuckTales comics, Scrooge tells one of the Beagle Boys that "I learned to fence while you were still crawling in diapers!"
- Lucky Luke:
- One story features an old-timer character in a wheelchair roping cattle. When Luke congratulates him, the old guy gives him the line.
- In the climax of the story called Ma' Dalton, the elderly mother of the Dalton Brothers boasts about being a good shooter. Too bad she's about to shoot the hero.
Ma' Dalton: I can shoot well and I won't hesitate about using my gun, whether you draw yours or not! I was wielding weapons when you were still a baby!
- Doctor Strange remarks in The Oath that he was patrolling New York City when "Spider-Man was in diapers." His faithful manservant Wong chimes in "But he still gets lost in the outer boroughs."
- In The Secret Life of Dolls, Cleolinda decides to keep The Littlest Edward busy by having him take care of her My Little Ponies. When he protests this, she tells him he'd better look after them and do a damned good job of it, because the ponies are all vintage and "I have friends who are younger than this!"
- Pagan Vengeance: Juvage pulls this on himself when preparing to fight Genghis Khan: "He has forgotten more about fighting than I ever knew."
- "I made my bones when you were going out with cheerleaders!" snarls Moe Greene in The Godfather.
- X-Men Film Series:
- X2: X-Men United: Colonel Stryker says this to Senator Kelly (or who he thinks is Kelly).
"I was piloting Black Ops missions in the jungles of North Vietnam while you were sucking on your mama's tit at Woodstock, Kelly."
- X-Men: The Last Stand: Beast pulls one of these on Wolverine, but the former is approximately 110 years younger than the latter.
"My boy, I have been fighting for mutant rights since before you had claws."
- X2: X-Men United: Colonel Stryker says this to Senator Kelly (or who he thinks is Kelly).
- In Star Trek: Generations, Kirk says this about Picard's grandfather being in diapers. The problem that many fans noticed was the context of the line was why he should enjoy a form of retirement, which directly contradicts scenes both before and after this, within the very movie. The funny thing about this line is that it's not true. Kirk, for all his recent knowledge that the man he's speaking to is from the future, is only seventy two years older than Picard. While this is no small age gap, he was probably having adventures while Picard's father was in diapers, not his grandfather.
- Kirk entered service approximately 50 years before Picard was born. If we assume his father and grandfather were born when their own parents were in their twenties, it works out.
- Sheriff Teasle does this to illustrate why he's so determined to find and kill Rambo in First Blood after the latter had accidentally caused his asshole deputy's death:
Teasle: Look, goddamn it! That's Art Galt, boy; me and him were friends when your mama was still wipin' your nose!!
- A variation, but with upbringing instead of age, is done in Battlefield Earth.
- In Blue Thunder, Braddock says he's was in the police force when new recruit Lymangood was "watching cartoons" and "eating a Fudgesicle".
- A variant of this occurs in Point Break (1991) with Gary Busey telling Keanu Reeves "I was takin' shrapnel in Khe Sanh when you were crappin' in your hands and rubbin' it on your face!"
- He does it again later on to a somewhat older man: "I was in this bureau when you were still popping zits on your funny little face, and jacking off to the lingerie section of the Sears catalogue."
- From O Brother, Where Art Thou?
Vernon T. Waldrip: I can't switch sides in the middle of a campaign. Especially to work for a man who lacks moral fiber.
Pappy O'Daniel: Moral fiber? Why, you little pasty-face sumbitch. I invented moral fiber! Pappy O'Daniel was displaying rectitude and high-mindedness when that egghead you work for was still messing his drawers!
- One elf in The Santa Clause dislikes being mistaken for a kid. "I have pointy shoes that are older than you."
- In The Rock, during his negotiations with the government, General Hummell calls out the White House Chief of Staff, reminding him that he and his men were in combat when the Chief was 9 years old.
- In Show Boat Windy McLain tells Sheriff Ike Vallon, "I was keel-boatin' while you was runnin' bare-foot 'round the landin'."
- Skyfall. Kincaid, the groundskeeper at the Bond family estate, gives a nicely understated Badass Boast when they hear the dogs barking, showing a bunch of mooks have just turned up.
Bond: Are you ready?
Kincaid: I was ready before you were born, son.
- In Neuromancer, the Finn wearily observes "I gotta pair a shoes older than you."
- In The Candy Shop War, Nate tells Mr. Stott that Belinda White has claimed that Hanaver Mills is her ancestor. Mr. Stott's response? " Belinda White has been using magic since Hanaver Mills was in diapers."
- Meets Older Than They Think in The Junk and the Dhow by Rudyard Kipling, reminding his compatriots that being kings of the sea currently doesn't mean they gave baby Poseidon his first trident:
But before and before, and ever so long before
And such contrivances were used
- In Northanger Abbey, Catherine is surprised to discover that her love interest Henry Tilney shares her enjoyment of Gothic novels. He cheerfully replies that given how much older he is, he's almost certainly read lots more of them than she has.
- In Anne's House of Dreams, Miss Cornelia uses this to crush an obnoxious minister.
- In the Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Relaunch, the Ferengi politician Kain has the following retort when criticized by a colleague: "You watch it, boy. I was cheating Yridians when your mother was too young to chew food".
- In the Warrior Cats series, Mudclaw is told to show more respect to his dying leader, Tallstar, because Tallstar was leader when Mudclaw was a kit mewling in the nursery.
- River Song: "This guy fought fires when you were still sucking on your mother's ***."
- The Saga of Darren Shan - Mr Crepsley, while saving the life of one of Darren's friends (in exchange for Darren becoming a vampire), tells Darren to "have some faith in someone who was doing this long before your grandfather was born."
- Reserved for the Cat: Thomas loses patience with Jonathon's snarking.
Do not mock me, Jemmie Hightower. And keep a civil tongue in your head. I knew your uncle, and I knew you when you were still in nappies.
- 1632: Paul Santee ends up on the receiving end when he offers to teach Ruth Tippett how to handle a shotgun. Santee is a Vietnam War veteran and the story begins in the year 2000.
Ruth: Son, I been huntin' pheasants in these here hills since you was in diapers, and you ain't a young man.
- Flashman and the Mountain of Light. General Gough says to his intelligence officer: "I was fightin’, an’ gatherin’ intelligence, while your grandfather hadn’t got the twinkle in his eye yet."
- Subverted in Just Shoot Me!. Nina tries to do this with Adrian, but Nina names a specific year, and Adrian says she wasn't even born then. Nina instantly breaks down.
- On Mama's Family, Mama says to Iola "I was making booties before you had feet!"
- Artie in Warehouse 13 "Like I don't know how to improvise an electromagnet. I was doing this when MacGyver was still trapped in his crib!"
- During the Celebrity Deathmatch between Ozzy Osbourne and Rob Zombie, Ozzy threatened Rob not to mess with him, saying "I was worshipping the devil when you were still in black leather diapers."
- The Twilight Zone (1959) episode "He's Alive" has a scene where Adolf Hitler's ghost tells off a neo-Nazi wannabe.
"Mr. Vollmer! I was writing speeches before you could read them. I was fighting battles, when your only struggle was to climb out of a womb. I was taking over the world, while your universe was a crib. And as for being in darkness, Mr. Vollmer, I INVENTED DARKNESS!!"
- In one of Colonel Flagg's M*A*S*H episodes, he showed up insisting that a bombardier who believed himself to be Christ should get "his highly trained thumb" back into action immediately. He was rude to Colonel Potter. Potter said that he didn't appreciate abuse. "I was in this man's army when the only thumb you cared about was the one you had in your mouth."
- In the Star Trek: The Next Generation episode "Relics," Scotty angrily remarks to Geordi that he was repairing warp drives when LaForge's great-grandfather was in diapers.
- In "Unification Part 2," Picard describes Spock's dealings with the Romulans as "cowboy diplomacy" and tells him that the Federation won't tolerate it. Spock retorts that he was involved with such cowboy diplomacy before Picard was even born.
- In the Star Trek: Voyager episode "Message in a Bottle," Voyager 's EMH tells Prometheus's EMH Mark II that "I was saving Voyager from annihilation when you were only a gleam in your programmer's eye!"
- In the Game of Thrones episode "The Ghost of Harrenhal" one of Theon's crewmen, less than impressed by Captain Theon, goes even further back, saying that "I have been reaving and raping since before you left Balon's balls."
- In the season five episode "High Sparrow", Lord Janos Slynt refuses to take a post at Greyguard, telling Jon Snow that he was "charged with the defence of King's Landing while you were soiling your swaddling clothes".This defiance earns him a swift death.
- An interestingly phrased variant in Farscape from Zhaan to Chiana:
Chiana: ...and when he didn't give it back, we beat the gris out of him. Should I be telling you this?
Zhaan: My dear, I've kicked more ass than you've sat on.
- In the final episode of Good Luck Charlie, when Gabe tries to stop his may-soon-be new-neighbor, Matt, from moving in to prank Mrs. Dabney, he gives him this quote:
Gabe: "I've been pranking Ms. Dabney when you were in diapers. In fact, I've been pranking her when I was in diapers!"
- A variant in Daredevil (2015) when Karen Page is talking with Ben Urich about Union Allied:
Karen Page: I read every big story with your byline. The VA kickbacks, toxic runoff, the Teachers Union scandal. Hell, you pretty much brought down the Italian mob back when I was in diapers! What ever happened to that reporter, Mr. Urich?Ben Urich: He got old. And a hell of a lot less stupid.
- Chancellor Pasquier says something to that effect in the episode of La Caméra Explore le Temps dealing with the murder of the Duchess of Praslin in 1847:
Pasquier: I was already a Master of Requests under Louis the Sixteenth. The Sixteenth! It has been forty-one years since Emperor Napoleon appointed me at the head of the Prefecture of Police. I think I have some experience with public matters.
- The Wire does this in the season 3 premiere. Major Colvin asks two rookie cops which direction is north. One points to the east, the other points at the ceiling. Colvin immediately orders them to carry compasses at all times until they know their sense of direction. The two officers leave Colvin's office, and as they do so, walk past Herc and Carver, who are sitting at Carver's desk writing up on an arrest.
Herc: Hey Carv, where you at?Ellis Carver: I'm at a desk outside the roll call room on the first floor of 1032 North Mount. My feet are facing west and my dick is pointing south-southwest! [grins]Herc: Bunny Colvin's been giving that speech as long as you guys were sucking air.
- Doctor Who. Combined with Cultural Posturing in "Genesis of the Daleks".
The Doctor: What's going on? Don't you realise how dangerous it is to intercept a transmat beam?Time Lord: Oh come, Doctor, not with our techniques. We Time Lords transcended such simple mechanical devices when the universe was less than half its present size.
First Doctor: For your science, school-teacher, not for ours! I'll tell you, before your ancestors turned the first wheel, the people of my world had reduced movement through the farthest reaches of space to a game for children!
- Also, the pilot episode had this from the First Doctor.
- Buck Rogers in the 25th Century. Blatant Lampshading in the episode "Planet of the Slave Girls", when retired 'Commander Gordon', played by Buster Crabbe, the original Flash Gordon (and Buck Rogers for that matter) chides Gil Gerard's Buck during a dogfight that "I've been doing this since before you were born, young man" ( LITERAL because the Buck Rogers serials date to 1939, years before Gil Gerard's birth; IRONIC since Buck comes from the 20th century via suspended animation and his character is centuries older than the 'vintage' fighter pilot Crabbe plays here ).
- Subverted in the Pet Shop Boys song "Young Offender": "I've been a teenager since before you were born" sounds like a boast, but is actually an admission that the singer is still emotionally/mentally a teenager.
- One of the few lyrics in the song "DotEXE - Hipster Cutthroat," with gratuitous amounts of ham added.
- Inverted by Wade Barrett who tried to call Rob Van Dam a has-been by claiming that the last time he held the Intercontinental Title, Barrett was still in diapers. The only problem being that Van Dam's last title reign was in 2006, when Barrett was 25 years old...
- At WrestleMania 21, during the Piper's Pit segment between Roddy Piper and "Stone Cold" Steve Austin, Roddy Piper says:
Piper: I was pissing Vince McMahon off, when the "Red" on the back of your neck was Diaper Rash buddy!
- One of Cranky Kong's quotes in Donkey Kong Country is "Last time I saw you, you were in diapers!"
- Mass Effect:
- Mass Effect 2: During Grunt's loyalty mission, if Gatagog Uvenk gets too uppity with the Shaman, the Shaman will remind him that "I was a warrior before your mother was born!" During a sidequest on Illium, an asari with a grudge against other species says that she was negotiating contracts while Shepard's ancestors were burning witches and enslaving each other.
- Later done in Mass Effect 3 with Javik, resident Last of His Kind former Precursor Popsicle, who is fond of mentioning what the dominant species of the current cycle were like in his time: humans lived in caves, hanar were like minnows in the ocean, yahg were small and salarians ate flies and licked their own eyes. He also jokes that asari used to be unable to count beyond ten without their toes but then again this is Javik we're talking about...
- Comes up again in Mass Effect: Andromeda. If Ryder criticizes Sarissa Theris for putting the asari ark at risk by stealing kett navigational data, Sarissa will snidely shoot back that she was studying tactics when Ryder's ancestors were toddlers.
- In World of Warcraft, Xaril the Poisoned Mind, one of the mantid Paragons (heroes sealed in amber and released in times of crisis- although for Xaril, it was in the relatively recent past, as opposed to centuries or millennia ago), says he remembers when Amber Shaper Un'sok, one of the sha-corrupted Empress' minions and the penultimate boss in Heart of Fear, was afraid to mix his first toxin.
- Ravel Puzzlewell does this as part of a Badass Boast in Planescape: Torment.
"I have forgotten more of the Art than you shall... EVER... KNOW."
- Warriors Orochi gives us Huang Zhong, who, in spite of the quote below, is not actually senile.
Huang Zhong: "I was being kidnapped by evil snake gods and forced to fight battles before you were even out of the cradle!"
- In the "Kill Killbane" ending of Saints Row: The Third, Final Boss Cyrus Temple boasts to the Boss, "I've been a soldier longer than you've been alive!" This boast loses a lot of its effect if you've made your Boss just as old as or even older than him.
- In Destroy All Humans! 2, a frustrated Orthopox-13, calling the Furon homeworld, chews out a space traffic controller for not recognizing him by name alone.
Orthopox-13: Never heard of... I'm Orthopox-13 man! The Orthopox-13! The conqueror of Zargon 5? The Hero of the battle of Tharsis Mons? The winner of the Xanthrax-47 cruelty award six years running? I'm the second most senior fleet commander in the entire Furon Navy! I was enslaving hyper-dimensional insectoids on the dunghills of Beedleblat while you were still in short pants! And you've never heard of me?
- When Richard of Rated RR made a video of failing to blend an iPhone 6 and Tom Dickson successfully did so on Will It Blend?, many of Rated RR's fans accused Tom of faking the results. Tom responded by calling out Richard and even pointing out that he's been blending stuff since 1980, which is years before Richard was ever born. Then Tom challenged him to meet up and do a special together to show Richard that the iPhone 6 actually does blend. Richard stopped too early; the Will It Blend? episode shows the iPhone 6 taking a much longer time to blend than previous models.
- The Inexplicable Adventures of Bob!:
Riboflavin: Please! I invented this cloak design when your great great great great great grandpa was a larva, and nobody knows how it works but me. We're fine!
- DM of the Rings, after Frodo cringes at Gimli's IC introduction (not so far back as the others being in diapers, but it counts):
Gimli: You punks stay in character! I was playing D&D before you got your first Nintendo!
- Adventures of Sonic the Hedgehog: Captain Rescue took offense at being called an "oldtimer" by Sonic in the episode "Over the Hill Hero", retorting that he had been saving Mobius from bad guys since Sonic was a "hedgehoglet".
- In one episode of Cow and Chicken, a new school bully starts picking on the kids that the previous bully picked on. After the new bully twists the noses of two kids, the original bully tells him:
Original Bully: Isn't nose-twisting a little old? My granny taught me that when I was still in diapers!
New Bully: Oh, just this morning then?
- The Avengers: Earth's Mightiest Heroes!: Baron Zemo tells Baron Strucker, current leader of HYDRA, that he "was running HYDRA while you were still a child." It should be noted that BOTH characters served in World War II, so they're both pretty old by this point.
- Jem: One episode invokes this trope with Bobby Bailey's criticism of Jem and the Holograms' version of a song he did back in the The '50s. He told Kimber he did it while her father was in diapers.
- Dragons: Riders of Berk feature this exchange when Hiccup is trying to find a job for Gobber:
Hiccup: I'm glad you're excited. But I still think there are some things in my designs you could use. I mean, you did teach me everything I know.
Gobber: Exactly. That's why you should let Gobber do what Gobber does best. I've been making saddles since you were in diapers. In fact, I made your diapers.
- A segment from Cartoon Network's parody of Survivor has Eustace tell Blossom that "I was setting up camp when your grandpa was in short britches."
- Occurred when Mickey introduced a cartoon in the House of Mouse episode "Max's Embarrassing Date"
Mickey: He's loved this one since he was a tiny tot in diapers. In fact, here's a picture of him as a tiny tot in diapers.
- The Simpsons: In "Marge Gets a Job", Groundskeeper Willie fights a wolf, and after he wins the two share some hooch and Willie tells him not to feel bad for losing, because he's been wrestling wolves since he was at his mother's teat.
- As a possible Shout-Out to a similar quote from the source material, the Animated Adaptation of Donkey Kong Country has this quote from the episode, "Best of Enemies", when Donkey Kong tries to stop Cranky from participating in a wing-walking competition against King K. Rool:
Cranky: "There's nothing to worry about, Donkey Kong. I was wing-walking while you were still wearing diapers!"
- In Moana, Maui's song "You're Welcome" has him bragging "What has two thumbs and pulled up the sky / While you were waddling yea-high? This guy!"
- In The Venture Bros., Sgt. Hatred uses this when he mouths off to the Monarch in the season 3 episode "Home Is Where The Hate Is":
Hatred: Look, you scrawny little turd, I was a professional villain while you were trading Garbage Pail Kids!
- In Rick and Morty, after Mr. Needful proceeds to "Zuckerberg" (AKA backstab) Summer, the former gleefully responds:
Mr. Needful: I've been Zuckerberging people since before Zuckerberg's balls dropped!
- Although Invader Zim's diminutive stature allows him to go undercover as a human in elementary school, in "NanoZim" he tells his nemesis and classmate Dib that he's been piloting ships since before he was born. This doesn't stop him from getting outmaneuvered by Dib's younger sister.
- Sir Benjamin Disraeli, Prime Minister of the United Kingdom in the reign of Queen Victoria, was occasionally attacked for his Jewish heritage. One such attack came in 1835, when the Irish Roman Catholic politician Daniel O'Connell vilified Disraeli in the House of Commons. Disraeli replied, "Yes, I am a Jew, and while the ancestors of the right honorable gentleman were brutal savages in an unknown island, mine were priests in the Temple of Solomon." This piece of invective makes this trope Older Than Radio—and probably older.
- George C. Wallace once replied to a group of hippies who called him a fascist, "I was killing fascists when you punks were in diapers."
- This trope was pointed out when tennis player Kimiko Date-Krumm returned from retirement at the age of 37. She started playing in 1989, before a good portion of her opponents were born and when another portion of them were small children (for reference, Serena Williams was born in 1981 and went pro in 1995, a year before Date-Krum first retired).