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Why We Can't Have Nice Things

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"My mom was one of those angry moms that gets mad at absolutely everything. Once when I was little I knocked a Flintstones glass off the kitchen table and my mom said, 'Well, DAMMIT, we can't have nice things!'"
Paula Poundstone

Imagine things are just going great. Maybe the world is at peace; there are no warring factions. Everybody gets along and there is No Poverty or disease or anything else that sucks. Then some asshole has to come along and ruin it for everybody else.

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This is why we can't have nice things.

You've probably heard your mother say this once or twice. This Stock Phrase turns up whenever clumsiness or stupidity once again wrecks something, especially something monetarily valuable or precious. It can also be applied to plans, historically significant things, or emotionally significant things. It's not limited to tangible objects, however.

This trope refers to the act itself and not the perpetrator, however in most cases the "crime" needs to actually have a sentient perpetrator in order to qualify. Crappy situations which are inherent and are naturally occurring with no definable source of blame on an entity or a group of entities do not count; it needs a scapegoat. Usually the destructive saviors belong to this trope because after every battle what used to be full of objects now looks like a wasteland.

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A few common scenarios when it comes to Why We Can't Have Nice Things that aren't limited to tangible objects:

1) The perpetrator is selfish and/or malicious, with the full intention of ruining everyone's fun.

Example: Everybody always goes out on Friday night to have fun with their friends. Bob, however, does not have any friends and is extremely jealous. Bob decides to commit vandalism and general mayhem, which in turn causes the enactment of a curfew for everybody.

2) The perpetrator is selfish and/or malicious, but largely ignorant of the full extent of damage their actions will cause.

Example: Vampires and werewolves are at peace with one another. Bob the werewolf is dating Alice, the princess of vampires, but one day decides to have an affair with Carol the werewolf. Alice, the beloved princess, decides to commit suicide in a fit of despair. I'm sure you can guess what happens next.

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3) The perpetrator is either ignorant of the outcome or innocent, instead thinking they are doing what they consider to be the right thing. This largely depends on perspective, as you'll see in the example — because what is considered fun or nice to one person, may not be felt the same way by another. In fact, this disruption might be a godsend.

Example: Bob and Alice routinely make fun of Suzanne behind the teacher's back. Carol notices and decides to tell the teacher, who in turn punishes Bob and Alice and prevents future occurrences that are at Suzanne's expense. Bob and Alice's fun has been ruined.

Why Fandom Can't Have Nice Things is a subtrope, when the "nice things" in question are relationships with the artist. See also Bloodstained Glass Windows, Rushmore Refacement, Broken Treasure, Priceless Ming Vase, Nice Job Breaking It, Hero!, What the Hell, Hero?, Status Quo Is God, Monumental Damage, Watch the Paint Job, The Precious, Precious Car, Fanwork Ban, and Doomed New Clothes. Might overlap with Self-Fulfilling Prophecy. Tends to lead into Cycle of Revenge.


Examples

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    Advertising 
  • A "No Talking or Phones" Warning combined with an advertisement for M&M's employs this concept. In the ad, the M&Ms are in a movie and Red M&M is trying to save several of his fellow M&Ms who are strapped to a Time Bomb. Suddenly, a phone rings, ruining the scene, and Red stalks off in a huff, complaining that this is why they can't make movies. As the clock continues to count down, one of the M&Ms asks worriedly why it's still ticking.
    • It’s not limited to that one.

    Anime and Manga 
  • One of the Japanese Transformers incarnations had an archaeologist beg Optimus to avoid destroying the digging site. Guess what Optimus and the others did to it.
  • Averted in One Piece, wherein the Archaeologist Lady of War Nico Robin refuses to fight in a ruined city so as not to damage anything, and has to flee to a safer place as a result. When the leader of the enemy Mooks traps her into such a confrontation, thus triggering one of Robin's very few Berserk Buttons, it gets... ugly.
  • Soul Eater: During his introduction episodes, Death the Kid ended up destroying an entire pyramid by accident. It was symmetrical, but the pharaoh living there, on the other hand...
  • Shigure of Fruits Basket can't even have a door.
  • The Phantomhive house staff in Black Butler, excluding Sebastian, often does more damage than they're supposedly worth. The maid constantly breaks things and mixes up wood and shoe polish, the chef can't do anything but burn food and cause explosions, and the gardener frequently mixes up fertilizer and herbicide. There's a reason Ciel keeps them around, though...
  • In Dominion Tank Police, Buaku and the Puma Sisters break into a museum vault to steal a priceless painting kept there temporarily. The painting's owner has hired a merc squad to protect it. Said mercs apparently see no problem with using automatic weapons in an enclosed space filled with priceless artifacts.
  • In the .hack series, the Crimson Knights used to regulate Player Killing by hunting down infamous PKers and punishing them, sometimes working with CC Corp to punish PKers that killed players by cheating. When the Crimson Knights fell apart, PKing got so ridiculously out of hand that CC Corp was forced to remove the mechanic entirely (paving the way for a lack of PKers in the first video game quadrilogy), making it an odd in-universe example of Why Fandom Can't Have Nice Things.

    Comedy 
  • Jeff Foxworthy's "Games Rednecks Play" CD regales the listener on how he and his brother play-wrestled and knocked over a family heirloom (his father's Jack Daniel's Elvis decanter) with an ironing board. Their mother yells "This is why we can't have nice things!"

    Fan Works 
  • This is included in the 12th chapter of The Vow to the conversation between Lord Shen and Zhan the Wolf Boss about the Bar Brawl the latter took part in with his troops while visiting the Shēnghuó Province:
    Shen: ...I did not teach you to disregard the rules of hospitality! I thought I employed better then tavern-brawling thugs!
    Zhan: Damned cats wanted to pick a fight, sir. One of ours had a bit too much to drink — a young whelp, Azure. They thought they'd beat up one of my men, I wasn't havin' it. Stinking cats want to mess with the wolf, they'll get the fangs!
    Shen: So you had your whole guard trash the tavern?
    Zhan: Not my problem if the stupid cats wanted to plant their faces in the walls... repeatedly.
    Shen: And this is why you can't have nice things!

    Film 
  • Jane Austen's Mafia features the Trope Namer a second before the Trope Namer to Get Out! here.
  • Godzilla has the habit of destroying various landmarks in Tokyo, both historic and modern.
    • Godzilla: King of the Monsters Provides a fine example: Tracking the wounded Godzilla, MONARCH finds an ancient city beneath the ocean, where Godzilla has come to rest. It's the historical and archaeological find of the millennium, but Godzilla needs to be healed in order to fight King Ghidorah right now, and the only way to do that is to set off a nuke in his face. For mankind to survive, the city has to be destroyed.
  • James Bond
  • Jackie Chan has subversions in several of his movies. Somebody tosses a Priceless Ming Vase at him. He knows it's priceless. And so he spends the entire fight beating up the bad guy while doing aerobatics with his own body and the vase so it doesn't break. It's a martial arts prowess Dish Dash, essentially. And when the fight is over, he puts the vase back. And, in a Double Subversion, it gets shot.
  • Inverted in The Da Vinci Code, where the heroes escape from the Louvre by holding a priceless painting hostage. In the screen sequel Angels & Demons, Langdon and Vetra are out of time, and rip out a page of the priceless Diagramma to take along with them.
  • Mars Attacks! has the aliens destroying Earth's landmarks for giggles.
  • Played with in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, where Henry Jones inadvertently brains his son with what appeared to be a Ming dynasty vase. He was initially more concerned about the loss of the artifact than the damage to Indy's skull (hey, he is an archaeologist), but on closer examination was relieved to discover it was a fake.
  • Parodied in Team America: World Police. The titular team blows up all sorts of important landmarks every time they face off against the villains.
  • In National Treasure, Nicolas Cage has to steal the Declaration of Independence to prevent the villain from getting his mitts on it. Throughout the movie, he treats the document with due respect and at the end of the movie returns it to the authorities, none the worse for wear. There's an awesome scene where he's holding the Declaration, in its frame, and the bad guys break in and see him just about to get in the elevator. Shaw shoots him in the chest. Luckily, as previously mentioned, the Declaration is under bulletproof glass, and Ben gets into the elevator, smirking.
  • In Iron Man, during one of the rocket boot tests, Tony ended up landing on one of his very nice cars. Everyone with a remote interest in cars cringed.
    Stark: OK, this is where I don't wanna be. Not the car, not the car!
    • Later in the movie, he overestimates the structural integrity of his house's roof after coming home from a successful Mk 2 suit flight test, crashes through the upper floor, through a grand piano, through the lower floor, and butt-first right onto the car he singed earlier during his boot/gauntlet flight test. After one of his barely competent helper bots sprays him down with fire retardant, he just slowly lays his head on the wreck out of tired exasperation.
  • In The Pink Panther (2006), Clouseau is questioning a wealthy casino owner named Raymond Laroque in his home. He asks to look at Laroque's vases and accidentally gets his hands stuck in them. Just before leaving, he asks Laroque if they're real. Laroque tells him they're worthless fakes. Satisfied, Clouseau tries to smash them on a table, breaking the table. As he leaves, a horrified Laroque mumbles that the desk was priceless.

     Literature 
  • In Red Phoenix, the Ace Pilot and his civilian Love Interest are sightseeing in Korea, and they visit a centuries-old fortress, which is marked with damage from being used as a defensive position in the Korean War. The woman laments that such a historic place had to be damaged in such a way, and the pilot points out that was pretty much the fortress's designed purpose.
  • The point of Ayn Rand's Atlas Shrugged. Only instead of the selfish people being villains, it's the unselfish. It plays out like this, all the great inventors of the story have had socialist types try to restrict how they spent their inventions, or force them to share profits with those who did no work. What do they do? They leave, letting those people try to run things without them.
    • Except they don't just leave, they take everything they built with them. They designed the railroads, the factories, everything we need for civilization, and they destroy it when they leave. No, the villains of the story are the selfish people.
      • Except for mining and petroleum operations, everything was pretty much left in place. The point Rand makes is that except for the most basic skills, it's the critical mind that makes industry go.

     Live Action TV  
  • The Doctor in the Doctor Who serial "City of Death", with a big black marker.
    • Subverted in the same serial when Duggan is about to smash a chair over the butler's head.
      "Duggan, what are you doing? Put it down! For heaven's sake, that's a Louis Quinze!"
  • In the Angel episode "Disharmony", vampire Harmony rips a page out of an ancient book to dispose of her gum, causing Wesley to flip out.
    Wesley: What are you doing?!?! This book is 12 centuries old!!
    Harmony: Okay, so it's not like I messed up a new one.
  • One of Harry Hill's sketch shows has the Brigadier from Doctor Who bringing a cut-crystal bowl to UNIT HQ, only for a Cyberman to blunder into him and smash it: the Brig complains "You can't have anything nice around here."
  • Battlestar Galactica (2003)
    • The final episode of the first season features a shootout between Starbuck and a Cylon in a museum on Caprica, destroying plenty of priceless artifacts in the process. This is made even worse by the fact that due to the fact that Caprica's been nuked to hell at the beginning of the series, this might be the only museum of its kind in the entire world that's still standing.
    • Through the early seasons, Captain Adama was working on a model sailing ship, but after an incident, he took out his anger by slamming his fist into it. The problem was that this was an ad lib by actor Edward James Olmos, who thought it was just a prop they provided him. It turned out to be a relatively valuable model lent to the production. Thankfully, it was insured.
  • This line is used occasionally by MythBusters after they've blown up a car, or any other expensive machinery they've gotten their hands on. Considering that it's implied they often have to go to great lengths to acquire certain vehicles (for example, when the only snow plow they could find for a myth was one that was broken and a nightmare to fix), it's surprising this isn't said more often.
    • Basically lampshaded during their first Jaws special, where they get hold of three of the actual yellow barrel props used in the original movie to test some shark strength myths. They are told point-blank by the owner that "the only thing we can't do is burn them, blow them up, or lose them." The predictable response is "Has he seen the show?"
  • Martial Law, created by and starring Jackie Chan's friend and frequent director Sammo Hung, once had the main character, who has a Jackie Chan-inspired fighting style, pose as an art fence trying to to sell a Ming vase. Da Chief is with two detectives outside in the van, and he points out that the suspect is going to be able to tell it's not a real vase. The two detectives say it is a real vase, and Da Chief goes Oh, Crap! as he realizes what might be about to happen. They all rush inside to save the vase, but a fight has already started. At the end of the scene, Sammo tosses the vase to Da Chief with a jaunty "See? No damage!" (Outtakes where the actor flubbed the catch reveal they had a crew member on the floor for just that possibility.)
  • For Jon Stewart, Barbie dolls potentially being used by pedophiles.
  • In an episode of Everybody Loves Raymond, Ray and Robert get into a hilarious fight that involves Bugles, an ugly sweater, and a lamp at Frank and Marie's house. Said parents walk in in the middle of the fight. Marie notices the broken lamp and quotes the trope.
  • Mystery Science Theater 3000:
    • In the Hobgoblins episode, Pearl quotes the trope after she has a couch temporarily moved into the Satellite of Love, only to watch Mike and the 'bots bounce around and squeeze juice boxes on it. The film for the episode is how she punishes them.
    • And in Outlaw of Gor, Mike, Crow and Tom are good-naturedly "roughhousing", until Mike throws Tom up in the air, he gets stuck in the ceiling and crashes to the deck. Gypsy says "This is why we can't have nice things" and moves off.
    • In The Movie, while watching This Island Earth, a character complains about blowing out some electronic components, and Mike quips "Oh, we can't have nice things!".
  • For the first five seasons of Canada's Worst Driver, the creators received hundreds of letters from fans begging the show to stop destroying classic cars in the weekly trials. For the sixth season they destroyed a 2010 Chevrolet Camaro. Cue the tears of a nation of car lovers. They drove the point across even further by introducing the car at the beginning of every weekly challenge with zoom-ins and beauty shots of the progressively worse shape of the car, torn-off bumpers and all.
  • In a season 8 Supernatural Dean throws a beer to Sam, who fails to catch the bottle (the trials are doing a number on him), which then breaks. Dean says "That's why we can't have nice things."
  • QI: Here, the reason is called Alan Davies. Alan has become so notorious for playing with and breaking antique and rare items lent to the show, that most museums and similar institutions now only lend items to the show with a stipulation that Alan is not to touch said items.
  • In Last Week Tonight with John Oliver, John and "Wanda Jo" use this phrase to explain why Our Lady of Perpetual Exemption is getting closed. Ultimately, people took the requests for "seeds" literally, in a bad way ("There were not one, not two, not three, but four pots and/or vials containing semen. And I think some were fake, but some were not!").
  • On My Name Is Earl, Earl and Randy had discovered that if a certain golfer at a local country club golf course got a hole-in-one, he'd buy everyone at the 19th hole beer. So that they would get more beer (and eventually lunch), they disguised themselves as golfers, and made it seem like he'd gotten holes-in-one every time. The fun was over soon enough, as Randy bragged about their exploits to all the lowlifes at the Crab Shack, who decided to do the same thing, and the country club responded by checking IDs at the door against their guest list.

     Music 

  • Taylor Swift equates this trope to a rekindled relationship or friendship falling apart due to the friend's betrayal (possibly Kanye West) in "This Is Why We Can't Have Nice Things".
  • In 2008, Ringo Starr caused quite a stir when fans and autograph hunters sent him items to be signed, and afterwards, he posted a video implementing a new policy where he decided to discontinue autographing stuff sent to him.

     Newspaper Comics 
  • In one Get Fuzzy cartoon, Bucky breaks a baseball player figurine presumably owned by Satchel. In typical Bucky fashion he wasn't even being clumsy; he just knocked it over because he didn't like the way it was 'looking at him.' Satchel is clearly upset. Rob tells the cat and dog that "See. This is why we can't have nice things."

    Religion 
  • Possibly the Ur-Example is Adam and Eve in Christian and Jewish myth. Eden was basically a natural utopia with farming being incredibly easy, talking animals, and even sex being great (completely painless pregnancy, for instance). There was only one simple rule, don't eat from the Tree of Knowledge. One might think that would be easy, right? Nope.
  • In the Book of Numbers, the Israelites have been journeying through the wilderness of Sinai for 2 years, and when they're encamped in the Wilderness of Paran, Moses selects one man from each tribe to scout the land of Canaan. Ten of the scouts spread an evil report that the land eats the inhabitants, and is populated by giants. Joshua and Caleb tell the Israelites that they can take conquest of the land if they will only trust God, but the congregation wants to stone them to death. After Moses intercedes for the Israelites, God decides not to destroy them, but the Israelites of twenty years or older that murmured against God and participated in the rebellion (except for Joshua and Caleb) will not be allowed to enter the Promised Land, but will eventually die in the wilderness, and their children will have to wait 40 years before they can enter the Promised Land as the older generation gradually dies off in the wilderness.

    Theatre 
  • The characters in the musical On the Town (and its somewhat different film version) take a trip to the Museum of Natural History, which ends with them demolishing a dinosaur skeleton.

    Video Games 
  • The final shootout in Mafia happens in an art gallery (the whole level is actually called "Death of Art"), and a cop whom the protagonist later tells about this actually goes ballistic about how many art pieces were destroyed in it.
  • Fallout 3:
    • There are two related quests. Both involve going into the ruins of the Museum of American History to recover artifacts. You can either sell them to a group of slavers who have taken over the Lincoln Monument (and want to destroy them, so they won't be used to help rally slaves) or you can kill the lot of them so a group of former slaves can move in (they will also buy the artifacts off you, and enshrine them instead). Notably, one of the pieces of equipment you can find is Lincoln's Repeater, which is a pretty useful gun.
    • The town of Megaton is the subject of this in "The Power of Atom" quest. The city of Megaton is a ramshackle, yet functional, bastion of humanity in the wastes, and is a monument to human survival, as it is a city built in the crater of an unexploded atomic bomb. And then you can decide to blow it up, and kill everyone in the town, for land magistrate Allistair Tennpenny because he finds it an eyesore, which just becomes even more petty once you realize that it's barely discernible in the first place.
  • The Chicago History Museum mission in John Woo's Stranglehold is all over this trope. Everything from dinosaurs to terracotta statues to lost pieces of architecture gets blown to hell by gunfire as Tequila fights to save Billie but she is killed on her father's orders by Tequila's former partner, Jerry.
  • In God of War Kratos gains experience for smashing things. This includes a lot of vases. The game is set in Ancient Greece. In his defense, they're not priceless antiques to him. On the other hand, he'd probably act just the same if they were.
  • They are priceless antiques in Tomb Raider: Underworld. That does not stop Lara casually kicking them to pieces to show off her legs in hopes of finding power-ups.
  • Uncharted
  • In The Legend of Zelda series, the average player doesn't think twice about countless pieces of family heirloom pottery Link destroys in order to take people's money, as exemplified here or here.
  • In the first Medal of Honor game one of your missions takes place in an old salt mine where the nazis have stashed art and sculptures they've looted. Have fun wrecking them, the very thing you're supposed to be preventing the Nazis from doing.
  • Ghostbusters: The Video Game, even more so than the movie series it's based on. Especially so in the Museum level, where the Proton Packs threaten to destroy priceless historical artifacts (unless the museum owners cunningly switched those artifacts with worthless replicas).
  • The Dragon Age series should be called "Why We Can't Have Nice Things: The Franchise." Many groups of people, in mythology and history, forever lose privilege because of the actions of one or a few knuckleheads, and many wonders are also forever ruined for the same reason.
  • Dragon Age: Origins: The Ferelden Circle is on a small island in a large lake. Finn from the Witch Hunt DLC reveals that the mages used to be allowed outside for supervised exercise sessions. Then one day Anders bolted and swam across the lake, knowing the Templars couldn't swim after him in their full plate armor. They caught him a week later, and mages haven't been allowed outside since.
  • Dragon Age II:
    • Many mages this game, including First Enchanter Orsino, heavily protest this trope, insisting that Knight-Commander Meredith continually cracking down on all Kirkwall mages because of the actions of a few just makes things worse for everyone.
    • Anders blew up the Chantry, causing Templars everywhere to crack down on all mages, forcing mages all over Thedas to either leave the Circle or get persecuted/killed.
  • Dragon Age: Inquisition:
    • The protagonist from the first game discovering the Temple of Sacred Ashes (Andraste's burial site) led to it being open to pilgrimages. This led to it being used for a villainous ritual that went wrong and caused a mountain-wide explosion at the game's opening. Now there is no more Temple of Sacred Ashes.
    • The Trespasser DLC reveals that all ancient elves were beautiful, immortal, and magical. Then a handful of war-leaders turned kings turned gods became insufferable tyrants, which culminated in them murdering their queen (Mythal) for trying to stop their power-hungry schemes. Then Fen'Harel created the Veil to imprison them, which cut elves off from the magic of the Fade, which caused them to lose their magic, immortality, and magic-fueled wonders. This is why elves can't have nice things.

    Webcomics 
  • Lampshaded and averted in this comic from the superhero arc of Dragon Tails, where Lemuel looks around the museum for something to throw at the heroes to slow them down while he runs away.
  • In the first installment of the "Journal" series in xkcd, someone remarks that "This is why we can't have nice people," after hearing about Black Hat Guy's latest work of evil.
  • Invoked in Looking for Group, when our heroes, comprising a "Blood Elf", an "Undead", a "female Troll" and a "Tauren", get transported through time to a more backwards era - specifically the Apartheid period for Tauren.
    Benn'joon: This is why we never get to go anywhere nice.
  • Guilded Age: "Adventurers?! That's why we can't have evil things!"
  • Stand Still, Stay Silent: While the crew is in quarantine, Reynir's older brother Bjarni, who happens to be a mechanic on the quarantine ward's boat, is only allowed a two-minute visit during the entire month of the quarantine's duration. While security and limited ressources can account for the number of visits, Bjarni himself gives a good idea of the reason visits are only two minutes long: within that time, he complains about his Hazmat Suit being itchy (which is also an early symptom of The Plague that warrants the quarantine) and tries giving Reynir a fist bump through his cell's glass wall.

    Web Original 
  • In the sixth episode of Echo Chamber, Tom wears a Fun T-Shirt that says this, and depicts the Hindenberg crashing into the Titanic.
  • In one of the earliest stories in the Global Guardians PBEM Universe, a team of supervillains invades the Smithsonian's Museum of Natural History intent on stealing a crystal sculpture that had been dug up in Equador. Naturally, the battle between the bad guys and the good guys destroyed lots of irreplaceable artifacts, and ended with the leader of the villain team, an alien being called Shadowspawn getting away with the sculpture while his teammates were all captured. As soon as he could, Shadowspawn shattered the sculpture in order to free up the base, which was a powerful magical artifact and his target all along.
  • The Something Awful forums had the OKCupid megathread closed down after multiple real-life stalking instances (both online and off) were traced back to users on the thread.
  • For April Fool's Day in 2014, Wookieepedia, the Star Wars wiki, featured a somewhat ill-considered prank involving a claim that the site would be switching to paid access, as well as a heavily modified version of the article about breasts including, among other things, a number of slang terms for this particular part of human anatomy. This resulted in criticism outside of Wookieepedia, as well as a doomed attempt to simply delete the article in question. Since then, Wookieepedia has simply not participated in April Fool's Day, despite it having been a tradition since 2006 when it was founded.
  • This Very Wiki has a few examples. For one, the ability to have strike-through text is disabled outside the forums because some editors would be tempted to abuse it for editorially-inappropriate snark.
  • YouTube creator Simone Giertz used to do live-stream videos of opening gift packaged that fans have send to her. Then somebody send her a vibrator. She invoked this trope as to why those videos are pre-edited now.

    Western Animation 
  • In a James Bond parody episode of Jackie Chan Adventures, Jackie presses the button to open the suitcase that transforms into a mini-plane so they can get away from the villain's evil lair, only to accidentally send it flying onto the air, alerting the Mooks to their presence.
  • The Critic. Franklin delights in destroying priceless art with a monster truck.
    Franklin: Take That! Guernica!
  • In an episode of Justice League, Superman punched his (invulnerable) opponent right through the Great Pyramid of Giza.
  • In the original Ben 10 in the course of the series — a single summer vacation: Ben and his family managed to destroy priceless artifacts in a Washington museum, burn that boat stuck at Niagara Falls, and blow up Mt. Rushmore. And wipe out an entire Mayan pyramid.
  • Kim Possible:
    • "Oh No Yono": When Monkeyfist breaks into a museum, he has his monkey ninja throw and attempt to drop valuable artifacts so that our heroes will have to catch them and he can get away.
    • Almost said word-for-word by Drakken when Shego and Green-Skinned Space Babe Warmonga got into a fight that resulted in a giant screen getting smashed.
  • In Santa Claus Is Comin' to Town, after Burgermeister Meisterburger trips on a toy duck and hurts his foot, he bans and outlaws toys from Somber Town, and it isn't until his successors pass on that the people realize how ridiculous his ban on toys actually was.
  • Futurama:
    Mayor: Thank you, mysterious heroes! The value of the Gemerald you saved is slightly greater than the cost of the damage you caused to this museum: A net gain for our great city!
  • Taken seriously for once on Teen Titans. In one of Robin's nightmares, he fought Slade to prevent him from destroying several statues. He managed to subdue him, but Slade wasn't unhappy about it—"Everything you care about, you destroy." Robin looked around at the ruins of the statues, which suddenly bore the visages of his friends, then pulled off Slade's mask and saw his own laughing face.
  • In the "Serious Business" episode of Teen Titans Go!, when Robin gets tired of waiting for such a long time to use the bathroom, he institutes bathroom rationing which limits their visits to 5 minutes, or a bomb will go off. Since the others couldn't finish their leisure activities in less than 5 minutes, they boycott using it, and when he makes them wash up, they get a chance to show him the fun of singing, dancing, playing with hair gel, eating food-shaped water topped with toothpaste, and watching plays where the bathtub and curtain are the stage. After deactivating the bomb, Robin begins to hog the bathroom for himself, and the others have to wait even longer before they can use it. After the others confront him, the bathroom (whose name is John) comes to life and tells him that all the bathrooms came from a destroyed planet to Earth in the hopes they would be appreciated, and after witnessing Robin's blatant abuse of the privilege, all of the other bathrooms leave Earth behind to find a more appreciative civilization that will have more respect for their mysterious magic, all due to Robin's selfish actions ruining it for everyone else.
  • Carefully averted by the Gargoyles. Demona flung a vase at Goliath, who caught it carefully, set it down, and then gave chase.
  • In the opening scenes of DuckTales the Movie: Treasure of the Lost Lamp, Launchpad manages to land his plane without crashing (though it is upside-down). However, in doing so, he utterly demolishes several ancient ruins.
    Launchpad: Coulda been worse. It coulda been something new!
  • In a episode of The Fairly OddParents!, Timmy's Dad constantly says "Why can't I have nice things?!" after seeing all the stuff Timmy wished up from Wal-Mart the Wall-to-Wall Mart. He then starts saying this about everything else.
    • In "Merry Wishmas", Timmy turns into an anti-Grinch when he wants to give every disappointed person in Dimmsdale who didn't get what they wanted for Christmas a coupon for one free wish. Everything appears to be going fine... until Vicki feels slighted by just one wish, so she wishes for a million wishes, with some of the extra wishes going to other Dimmsdale residents who go on a wishing spree. In Fairy World, when the big wand gets overloaded, Jurgen traces the problem to Dimmsdale and finds that Timmy is responsible for giving everyone wishes, so he shuts off the magic power and plans to have Wishmas replace Christmas so the fairies can rule the holidays, with Santa Claus moving into Timmy's house after he feels kids don't need him anymore. After capturing Jurgen, Cosmo and Wanda (known as the Magic Mailman and the Mail Mites), Santa comes out of retirement when the kids are disappointed by Wishmas, with the kids filling Santa's sleigh with the mountain of surplus toys.
  • In Archer, episode "Job Offer", Malory Archer throws a hissy fit when her son leaves ISIS, breaking all the nice things in her office. (Pam: "And that's why she can't have nice things." Cheryl: "Either that or I steal them.") They use the line again at the end of the episode, and in the next one, Dial M for Mother, when Archer bleeds on the carpet.
    Malory: This is why we can't have nice things.
    Archer: Why? Because you keep shooting them?
    • The exact phrase was used as a running joke in Frisky Dingo. When the line cropped up again in Archer, a show with the same creators and writers, it may have been a cross-over gag. Not that it wasn't still funny.
  • In The Simpsons, Lisa shows Homer the grammar robot she built for her science fair. When the robot corrects Homer's statement "Me like beer" with I like beer", he pours beer into its mouth. Lisa then uses this exact phrase while taking it to be fixed.
    • In "Wild Barts Can't Be Broken", after the Springfield Isotopes win the pennant and make the playoffs, Homer, Lenny, Carl and Barney go on a drunken spree, vandalizing Springfield Elementary. When Homer goes looking for his car the morning afterwards, Chief Wiggum erroneously concludes that the vandalism is the work of the Springfield Elementary students, and a curfew is enforced against the kids, which makes it illegal for them to be out after sunset. The kids attempt to sneak out to watch a movie at the drive-in, but Chief Wiggum catches them, and so they must clean up a billboard with Wiggum's picture. The kids then resort to a pirate radio show, where they reveal the adults' secrets, and the kids and adults confront each other in a musical number, with Grampa Simpson complaining about the noise, and a curfew banning everyone under 70 years of age from being out on the streets passes by a one-vote margin, with Homer refusing to cast a ballot which could have resulted in a tie vote, which would have deadlocked and defeated the measure.
  • In The Legend of Korra "A Leaf in the Wind", in a fit of frustration, Korra blows up a 2000-year old device for teaching airbending. Tenzin is appropriately horrified.
  • On Transformers G1, an idyllic meadow where wildflowers bloom and butterflies flutter is devastated when the Autobots and Decepticons start brawling over possession of a pool of electrum one of them discovered there.
  • Beast Wars Optimus Primal has a similar reaction to Rattrap's behavior:
    Optimus: I swear, I can't take you anywhere!
  • Lampshaded by Mikey himself in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2012):
    "You know I can't be trusted with nice things!"
  • If something goes wrong in My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic and it doesn't involve a Big Bad or Discord and it causes something to get ruined, it's probably Pinkie Pie's fault.
  • Kaeloo: If anything goes wrong and something gets ruined or broken, it will involve Mr. Cat and/or Stumpy.
  • Appears word-for-word in the American Dad! episode "Lincoln Lover". Roger tries to comfort Stan, who is depressed after having missed out on being chosen to speak at the Republican National Convention, by organising a cheese tasting. In the second it takes Roger to fetch his journals to record their impressions of the fancy imported cheeses, Stan has scoffed the entire tray in one mouthful. A tearful Roger storms out muttering "...can't have nice things!".

    Real Life 
  • Everyone, just pretty much everyone who happens to be an Innocent Bystander can be the exact reason for this trope and the prime harbinger of why some are either Born Lucky or Born Unlucky, as each action is simply be a Spanner in the Works that drives your life in every way. And neither side will actually notice until it is too late.
  • Part of the reason why photos of Osama bin Laden's corpse will not be released to the public is because of fears that it will be used as Garbage Post Kid bait. The more Internet savvy or just Internet-visible have long been struggling to keep both good and bad material related to themselves off the Internet due to G.I.F.T. Sometimes it works, usually it doesn't, and sometimes it has the opposite effect.
  • There are many people who own large stretches of wilderness, which they leave open to the public for outdoor activities... until one too many people leave big piles of litter, have loud parties late at night, tear up the ground with four-wheelers, etc, and next thing you know the NO TRESPASSING signs are up.
    • This is what happened at the Pulgas Water Temple in California, long cherished by meditators and quiet LSD trippers. It used to be 24/7/365. Now it has strictly enforced hours.
  • The September 11th terrorist attacks are the reason why security at airports and other major travel venues are so jacked up that the process of getting on board the plane can take longer than the actual flight.
  • Conflicts like World War II left a lot of this kind of thing.
  • Teachers in many schools may sometimes reward their class (candy, no homework, etc.) if the entire class is on their best behavior. There will usually be one or two children that misbehaves (usually out of ignorance and not ill will), causing the teacher to revoke the reward for the entire class, which also causes the class to now scowl at the troublemakers for screwing everyone out of the reward. This method of reward versus punishment tend to be very difficult to implement on very young children since they do not fully grasp the concept of consequences or how their actions can affect other people.
    • This one got a bit rougher when the crusade against bullying was in full-swing. Since the troublemaker ruined the chance for the entire class, if they weren't the bully themselves then often they'd be bullied for screwing it up. The natural shockwave of this was for most teachers to stop handing out class-wide rewards entirely.
    • This form of discipline is common enough in the armed forces as well, especially in training, leading many to make the cynical observation that the military takes a group of motivated adults, tasked with the responsibility of fighting to the death for their nation's interests, and treats them like a classroom full of schoolchildren. At least in the military, the reasoning can be made that one person's mistake (whether in combat, or while representing his unit or country when dealing with civilian populations) can cause widespread problems for everyone else, even without a reward at stake.
  • Ordering food on the Internet (whether it's take out or groceries) is extremely convenient, but some people have abused online ordering by ordering only one item, like a stick of gum or one serving of french fries. In order to save on money being spent for gas, many establishments now impose a minimum delivery total to ensure that people order at least a few items so that time and gas isn't wasted.
  • Fast food restaurants used to be able to serve absurdly large serving sizes (for example, McDonald's infamous Super Size) until people started to sue the fast food corporations for making them fat. Many eateries now don't go beyond the size of "large".
  • Food stores and supermarkets tend to give out free samples of a food product to entice the customer to buy said product. Usually, there is no limit on how many samples one person can take, so there will always be at least one guy that takes most or all of the samples for themselves and/or friends while leaving nothing for the next customer. The store responds by either cutting back on samples or stops giving them out completely in order to save on costs. Another method is to have somebody personally handing out the samples, though this still means less, since they can only afford to have a live person doing it every so often.
  • Small Creators on Youtube can no longer monetize(ie make money off of) their videos on Youtube thanks to controversies created by larger Content Creators such as Logan Paul and Pewdiepie, who get off with only a slap on the wrist. Due to the rise of trolls and hate speech popping up in the comments sections, advertisers are pulling out from the Youtube platform since they don't want to be associated with channels that have users spewing hate speech openly. Youtube's solution to the mess? Demonitize the offending videos if the creator doesn't put a lid on the abusive behavior from their users. This in turn caused many content creators to simply disable comments on their videos to avoid losing money, so now no one gets to have any form of discussion.
  • The Athens 2004 torch relay was the first Olympic torch relay to travel internationally to every continent instead of just the usual relay routine. The following Beijing 2008 torch relay did the same thing, but quickly became infamous for being heavily sabotaged by Pro-democracy, Pro-Tibet, and other Anti-Chinese government protesters. This reached the point that many legs of the relay degenerated into confrontations of the relay by said protesters and many legs of the relay were shortened and otherwise altered (see the Wikipedia article for more details. Note that most other torch relay articles are mainly just about the paths they took.). This more or less killed any chances of there being another international torch relay.
    • Speaking of the Olympic Games, Munich 1972 opened with this kind of thing and a sweet spirit of lighthearted celebration intended to wipe out the evil memories of the "Nazi Games" and look forward to a future of universal brotherhood. Of course, this happened. Ironically, part of the reason the terrorists were able to get in in the first place was that Olympic Village security didn't want to be fascists and responding to complaints of "Gestapo tactics" by both athletes and journalists had relaxed their rules, especially at night. The terrorists just pretended to be more drunken Americans climbing the fence after hours.
  • Areas and buildings that are historical are usually allowed to have tourists take a look at them for educational values. All it takes is one person to do something stupid, like defiling a piece of art or scribbling doodles in a 3000 year old Egyptian pyramid, that causes the staff to clamp down on how close people can get to the historical artifacts.
  • Popular movies and TV shows with exterior shots of iconic homes become a tourist attraction with fans travel far to visit the real life film location. Usually, they are privately owned residences. Current homeowners do welcome tourists flocking to take pictures, but may end up restricting by installing fences and signs if they are fed up with littering and trespassing. An example is The Goonies house in Astoria, Oregon where the homeowner draped her house in tarp due to the influx of tourists during the film's 30th anniversary.
  • Midnight Rider, an infamously Troubled Production, may meet this fate due to the on-set death of camera assistant Sarah Jones by train. For the rest of his life, Gregg Allman didn't want to share his story with moviegoers anymore due to the incident, which was labelled an act of criminal negligence on the part of the filmmakers.
  • Any chance for a wide release of The Interview ended up becoming a casualty of the Massive Sony Hack of '14, perpetrated by the terrorist organization Guardians of Peace (which has been alleged to have ties with the film's target, the DPRK, but is more likely to have been merely a disgruntled former employee looking for revenge).
  • Moderators on the Steam forums can no longer edit anyone's posts due to one too many game developers and abusive moderators altering peoples' posts to silence criticism against them or the games. While more level headed moderators would edit posts so that they don't have to delete the post or lock the thread outright, now they have to delete posts/threads or lock threads with no middle ground.
    • This has, of course, just caused abusive moderators to lock and delete threads they don't like, making the change rather pointless.
  • More events are now checking bags because of so many shootings in the United States. Regal Cinemas will start checking any bags brought into the theaters in Summer 2015.
    • Or, at least, that was what they said they were going to do. But it's either not being enforced anymore or only being selectively/randomly enforced.
  • Multiple news stories appeared in 2015 that fit squarely into this trope. Among others, the West Point Pillow Fight, meant as a time of amusement and harmless fun for cadets, which turned bloody due to a number of "participants" putting helmets in their pillow cases, causing numerous injuries.
  • In the US, gun control is very divisive, because too many gun owners come off as this. The response among the 3D printing community and the pro gun community to the invention of the liberator pistol can be described as less "that'll show em" and more "you're gonna make em take away our rights". The liberator is the first gun made almost entirely out of 3D printed components note , and essentially functions as a single shot close range gun. Gun fans and 3D printers were worried that this development would cause the governments of the world to crack down on both industries, fears that weren't at all alleviated when a group of reports manged to get an (unloaded) liberator within throwing distance of the prime minster of Israel.
  • In Spring 2016, Playboy's magazines stopped featuring nude photos due to the rampant upswing of Internet pornography making nudes passe.
  • Public restrooms. They may be called "public," but, of course, people expect a certain amount of privacy, i.e. closed stalls and not having stuff like cameras monitoring it because that would just be creepy. Unfortunately, this, of course, means that they're sometimes used by the seedy elements for stuff like doing drugs, conducting other Black Market transactions, etc. If enough people do this, they sometimes end up just getting closed down.
  • Some business, such as stores and banks, sometimes simply choose not to operate in areas riddled with a lot of crime. (Though, in some cases, this may be only one excuse.) This, of course, leads to a vicious cycle because people in those areas either have to go out of their way to get what they need, or end up paying more for stuff they can barely afford. See food desert.
  • Enrico Caruso got one after his death in 1921. Initially his body was displayed in a glass case in the Cimitero di Santa Maria del Piantonote  in Naples. Most visitors were very respectful. However, the cemetery has no bathrooms. In 1929, his widow Dorothy ordered the tomb sealed.
  • The guitar makers of C.F. Martin & Co. gave an authentic 1870s guitar to be used in The Hateful 8. But upon learning that the real guitar was destroyed during filming rather than one of the doubles, they decided to stop lending their guitars to film productions.
  • This is why music players like phones are usually banned during tests, due to one too many cheating students abusing them for the sake of being told the answers through them.
  • Hitchhiking has been virtually dead in the U.S. for many years, thanks to "stranger danger" warnings and too many actual incidents where either the hitcher or the hitchee was the victim of robbery, rape, murder or all three. In Canada, some naive techies created Hitchbot, a clunky robot with a camera, a twitter feed and a slightly smartassed mouth. She was supposed to be transported by whoever found her and left in some public place for the next person to find. In the summer of 2014 she traveled across Canada from Halifax to Victoria, then visited Germany and the Netherlands. Her creators then updated her a bit and thought it would be a nice idea to send her across the United States. Here is what happened.
  • Sometimes, because of a few bakas who feel that it's OK to trash hotel rooms, pee in the hallway, write graffiti, harass other congoers, harass people who are at the hotel for other reasons, throw loud parties, etc., hotels will refuse to host Fan Conventions. Or else they'll jack up the cost of the rooms, which in turn causes the price of con tickets to go up. So, please. Be considerate when you go to a con. Otherwise, you may find that you don't have a con to go to.
    • Particularly notable is the Homestuck fandom. It's fun to cosplay as one of the Trolls, but then hotels got stuck with trying to clean the smears of gray body-paint all over the walls, doors, and bedsheets. At least one place had to unclog their hot tub after con-goers decided to jump in while in full costume!
    • The Internet Historian goes over the fall Rainfurrest in this video. The things some of the con goers did to get the con banned can only be described as Crosses the Line Twice. However in the Q&A, IH also notes that the event organizers are partially to blame as they little to nothing to curb degenerate behavior over years, to the point where a few individuals felt they could behave, well, like animals. Still a few individuals, and an internal saboteur, ruined it for everybody.
  • Related to the above, there used to be a longstanding policy among continental European hotels and lodgings to not rent to English football fans due to (somewhat justified) fears of hooliganism.
  • In September 2016, the Alphabet-funded linknyc Internet kiosks set up in public Manhattan sidewalks and other popular metro areas in the state were stripped of their internet browser capabilities when too many pedestrians used it for porn.
  • The insurance company Esurance abruptly discontinued their highly popular "Erin Esurance" series of ads in 2010, in part because people on the internet wouldn't stop making porn of the character.
  • After the 2015 NHL Draft, where teams openly tried to lose games to get a better shot at hyped prospects Connor McDavid and Jack Eichel,Background  the league changed the rules of the lottery to involve three separate lotteries for the top three picks. Two years later, the last-place Colorado Avalanche, who amassed 48 points without even trying to tank, were screwed over by the process when they dropped to the fourth pick, infuriating fans of the team.
  • Atom's for peace, an Eisenhower administration pet project, gave nuclear reactors to developing countries to start their own nuclear power projects and help boost their economies. Nearly all the recipient countries tried to make nuclear weapons with these reactors and two of them (India and Pakistan) succeeded.
  • Go to the No Real Life Examples, Please! section on This Very Wiki and you will see a lot of examples of why we can't have nice real life examples, especially because of some people just couldn't resist Flame Bait. Locked pages often also qualify.
  • According to Shattered, a book about the 2016 campaign of Hillary Rodham Clinton, the phrase "We're not allowed to have nice things" became a "dark mantra" of the campaign as it was continually buffeted by stuff such as the FBI announcements about e-mail investigations, the Wikileaks dumps, etc.
  • Ultra Music Festival, a music festival for Electronic Music, implemented an adults-only policy for 2015 onwards after two incidents occurred at the Miami venue in 2014. There was a 21-year-old who died of a drug overdose, as well as a security guard getting critically injured after a mob broke a gate and trampled her which resulted in dozens of arrests.
  • Depending on your definition of what a "nice thing" entails, the U.S. State Department has decided to ban all Americans from traveling as tourists to North Korea following the death of Otto Warmbier in June of 2017. Warmbier had been traveling with a tourist group, when he decided to take down a propaganda poster in his hotel room, a crime that earned him a 15-year hard labor sentence in early 2016 and ultimately cost him his life.
  • A crisps company in the UK held a promotion where they invited people to upload selfies to be used in a humorous fashion by a sports newscaster and the winner would score some sporting event tickets. Predictably, the internet sent in photos of terrorists, dictators, pedohphiles, and other criminals. The company ended the contest.
  • For more than a century, the American outdoor retailer L.L.Bean, founded in 1912, offered a lifetime guarantee on all products it sold—offering refunds even without a purchase receipt. However, in the mid-2010s, certain customers began abusing the policy, returning products bought from third parties (such as yard sales) or effectively turning the policy into a lifetime replacement program. The company announced in February 2018 that returns would only be accepted from one year after purchase, and that proof of purchase would be required for any returns.
  • Service animals, like seeing eye dogs, and dogs that are certified to provide emotional support to people who really need it like Service-people who have come from overseas, are very useful and are usually allowed to follow their person around everywhere. Following a series of incidents where people have labeled their (sometimes untrained) pet as an "emotional support animal" that have resulted in people getting bitten in airplanes, or running amok in the cabin, airlines have considered banning such animals from flying in the passenger cabin, or at least increase the scrutiny of the animals allowed to come aboard, including well trained, legitimate service animals that are essential for the well being of those who need them.
  • A concern with "Safe Spaces," such as gay bars. If too many people from outside the marginalized group it was set up for come in, it loses its purpose. Recently, women's interest magazines have suggested that (straight) women go to gay bars, so that they can be free to drink and dance without being hit on by creepy, sometimes Jerkass men who won't take "no" for an answer. The problem is that some of these women (not all, but enough that it's a real problem) Come to Gawk and act like obnoxious Yaoi Fangirls, or go to check of a "progressive" or "ally" or "good person" box they may not actually be entitled to check off. Not only that, but a lot of the creepy straight men these women were trying to get away from have caught onto this, and come to gay bars to pick up women...and can be obnoxious (or even cruel and violent) towards gay men there. This leads to the LGBTQ+ people the bar was meant for avoiding it, because the whole point of this place was to avoid being ogled or being given dirty looks/rude comments/violence/etc. There can be legitimate reasons for a straight person to go to these places: being invited by an LGBTQ+ friend or relative, acting as moral support or a wingperson for someone who wishes it, or seeing a performer such as a comedian or a band, but you do have to respect the space and the people in it, and don't make it a regular thing. (Remember, you are a guest, and guests can wear out their welcome.) And if you're using someone else's safe space as an unrelated safe space for you and your friends, then either set up your own space, or be content with drinking at home or at restaurants instead of bars and nightclubs.
  • This is a common reaction when someone's cat breaks something.
  • Tumblr was no stranger to pornography, but the site did very little about it since for the most part, there was no harm to it. Thanks to the people who used Tumblr to upload child pornography and related material, Google and Apple banned the Tumblr app from their storefront and in the end of 2018, Tumblr prohibited pornography of all kinds. The ban on porn also harmed many artists who made a living selling nude art and/or pornographic art and even non porn artists had their works tagged as pornography by Tumblr's algorithms. The changed cause many people to do a mass logout protests while others deleted their Tumblr accounts.
    • This is also what happened to Website/Usenet, which counts as one of the first internet social media or discussion sites.note  Usenet was once accessible through any computer and you could set your email client to subscribe to and download your favorite newsgroups. It was an extremely useful service for uncensored discussions of all kinds for free. Ripped-off binaries, child pornography, pirated material and other illegally encoded stuff caused most internet providers to stop Usenet service. Usenet was bought by Google and is now called Google Groups, a mere shadow of its former vibrant self. Other services allow you to access Usenet via paid subscription.
  • Before the 1980s, in France, lawyers used to be able to visit their clients in prison without being searched by the warden. After an escaping inmate shot a guard with a gun which had been handed to him by his lawyer Brigitte Hemmerlin, all lawyers were to be searched before entering.
  • This is what happens in condos where at least one owner or tenant doesn't pay his dues: there's less and less money available to fix issues or improve the building and, as a result, everyone there suffers.
  • Countries with widespread tax fraud have less money available to improve the infrastructures and the public services, harming everyone.
    • The same is of course true when taxes are cut, especially when they are cut for top earners. Top earners meanwhile don't care. Potholes? Use the helicopter. Crappy schools? Send the kids to private boarding schools. Rampant crime? Hide behind the walls of a gated community...
    • And while we're at it, welfare fraud. Not only does it suck government aid from people who might need it, it's also one of, if not the leading, reason people fight against government aid and taxes. To boot welfare exploiters tend to be some of the most regular voters so it's very difficult to patch.
  • The practice of gentrification. Real-estate developers come in intending to revitalize a neighborhood (often one that is low-income and/or populated mainly by minorities). They do that by putting in high-end luxury apartments, condos, and townhouses, which no one that lives in this neighborhood can afford. That leads to landlords jacking up their rent costs in an attempt to compete. Additionally, mom-and-pop stores are replaced with chain stores and high-end department stores, leading to less economic opportunity. As a result, people that once lived in this neighborhood (many that built a unique community culture and repoire with their neighbors) end up having to pack up and move, because they can no longer afford the rent costs and their small businesses can no longer compete with the bigger ones moving in.
  • Said word for word at the 4:35 mark of this video. The video talks about how Disney's, Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge had to stop giving out individual menus to diners, instead giving a party one menu to look at, switched from a stainless steel spork to plastic cuttlery, and may even implement extra security as a way to help stop park goers from stealing these items and selling them over the internet.

Alternative Title(s): Why We Cannot Have Nice Things

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