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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.


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.


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.


3) The perpetrator is either ignorant of the outcome, careless 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.


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  • 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 (ostensibly in the theater audience), 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.

    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.

  • 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!

  • Jane Austen's Mafia has this being spoken as one character angrily throws some nice flower vases at another.
  • 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
    • Bond fights a bad guy in an Italian glass museum in Moonraker. There had been a tour through the museum earlier, just to establish exactly how priceless each piece was. It goes like you'd expect.
    • Averted in Dr. No: "That's a Dom Perignon '55, it would be a pity to break it."
    • Almost averted in A View to a Kill. Bond is fighting thugs at Stacey Sutton's home, and picks up an urn to use as a weapon. Stacey screams in protest — and Bond hands it to her before continuing the fight. But at the end she's forced to smash it on a thug's head.
      Stacey: It was granddad's ashes. But he always loved a good fight.
  • 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 and 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.

  • 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.

    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!"
  • Buffyverse. Members of the Watcher's Council have trouble with their charges lack of respect for antiquity.
    • In the BTVS episode "Gingerbread", Buffy grabs some paper to draw a magical symbol she saw on a dead body. As the paper is a valuable parchment from the 12th Century, Giles quickly removes it and hands Buffy a notebook.
    • In the Angel episode "Disharmony", ditzy 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. When Marie notices the broken lamp she quotes the trope - and the meme - word for word. It’s entirely possible that this episode is where the version popularized by Arguecat originated.
  • 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.


  • 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."

  • 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.

  • 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 and fight 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.

  • 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 
  • The meme known as Arguecat is an image macro first posted on Live Journal in 2007, featuring an angry gray cat captioned with the words “This is why we can’t have nice things!”. Considering it uses the exact same wording as the Everybody Loves Raymond example listed above only a year after the episode aired, it’s entirely possible that was where the meme was initially conceived.
  • In the sixth episode of Echo Chamber, Tom wears a Fun T-Shirt that says this, and depicts the Hindenberg crashing into the Titanic.
  • 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 an 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 Vicky 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, Jorgen 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 Jorgen, 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.
  • The Simpsons:
    • In "Trilogy of Error", Lisa shows Homer the grammar robot she built for her science fair. When the robot corrects Homer's "Me love beer" to "I love beer", he pours beer into its mouth, making it short circuit. Lisa then exclaims this phrase almost verbatim in frustration.
    • In "Wild Barts Can't Be Broken" Homer and his friends go on a drunken vandalism spree of Springfield Elementary in the aftermath of their baseball team's victory in the playoffs. Chief Wiggum blames the students, and when he catches them breaking the resulting curfew, he makes them perform community service. The kids retaliate with a radio show where they reveal the adults' secrets, and this little war of nerves eventually culminates in the kids and adults confronting each other in a musical showdown, each accusing the other of embodying this trope. Grampa Simpson and the other old folks complain about the noise, and succeed in securing a curfew against all under-70's.
    • In “Team Homer” Bart wears a shirt with the words “Down with Homework”, leading to chaos in Springfield Elementary. As a result, Principal Skinner creates a school uniform to the detriment of the student body. In one sequence, military-like marching can be seen and heard.
  • InThe 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 
  • 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 Pulgas Water Temple in California, long cherished by meditators and quiet LSD trippers, used to be 24/7/365. Now it has strictly enforced hours due to bad behavior from tourists.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Midnight Rider, an infamously Troubled Production, met 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.
  • 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 Eight. 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.
  • There used to be a longstanding policy among continental European hotels and lodgings to not rent to English football fans due to (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.
  • 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 allegedly 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • After it came to light that a lot of the anonymous user-submitted content on Pornhub featured pedophilia and human trafficking victims, there was basically no way to sort it out and they nuked everything but verified accounts.
  • 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.
  • Said word for word at the 4:35 mark of this video. The video talks about how in Disneyland's, Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge, restaurants had to stop giving out individual menus to diners, instead giving a party one menu to look at, switched from a stainless steel spork (with a Star Wars aesthetic) to regular plastic cutlery, and may even implement extra security as a way to help stop park goers from stealing these items and selling them over the internet.
  • A local New York City newspaper disabled comments on their articles posted on their website. The staff said that it was costing them money to have moderators and algorithms deleting offending comments over and over (with no results) from people being nasty towards each other and the people in the articles. Said people even harassed and threatened people that were victims of crime and even those who were still in high school. The harassment caused people that had information for a news story to not come forward because they didn't want to deal with people looking up their names and location and harassing them.
  • The National Emergency Library fell victim to this. The Internet Archive, which managed the library, decided to close it two weeks early because of a concerted attack by a quartet of commercial publishers.
  • In 2016, the Rockville, MD Hooters closed and gave up its liquor license after Luis Gustavo Reluzco drove away from the Hooters after drinking heavily there. Reluzco then struck and killed Officer Noah Leotta. The restaurant was forced to close because one the Hooter Girls continued to serve him while he was drunk.
  • In 2011, a man named Lawrence Russell Brewer was executed. Before he was executed, he was allowed to request a last meal, and he requested two chicken fried steaks, a triple-meat bacon cheeseburger, fried okra, a pound of barbecue, three fajitas, a meat lover's pizza, a pint of ice cream, and a slab of peanut butter fudge with crushed peanuts. The problem was, he didn't eat any of it. As a result, Texas did away with bespoke last meal requests for its death row inmates.
  • According to this video, back in Sweden in the 1960s this person's grandfather bought a monkey from a sailor that came into his shop one day. After being locked up in its cage for several months, the monkey attacked and severely wounded its owner when it was finally let out, and the police were called in to deal with the situation, but after they couldn't capture it, they shot and killed it. A few months after the incident, no charges were filed as he had committed no real crimes, so the Swedish government created new laws that banned any animal that could be classified as an exotic pet within its national borders.


Video Example(s):

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


Family Meeting

After Santa's Little Helper destroys her heirloom quilt, Homer tries to comfort the distraught Marge, saying they can't get attached to things like that, only to freak out when he saw that SLH had eaten his macadamia nut cookie. This proves to be the last straw for Homer as he calls for something the Simpsons have never done before - a family meeting.

How well does it match the trope?

4.9 (10 votes)

Example of:

Main / HypocriticalHumor

Media sources: