When the evil character is finally brought to justice, he claims that he would've gotten away with it if it weren't for those "meddling kids" (or whoever it was who foiled his plot). He may be evil, but he gives credit where credit is due. The classic form is, "And I would have gotten away with it, too, if it weren't for you meddling kids!" The use of the phrase "meddling kids" is a classic Shout-Out to Scooby-Doo.
It's not "you meddling kids and that stupid dog"/"that dumb dog"/"your dog", although these turn up as a Shout-Out in other shows.
Here is a compilation with a lot of examples.
- Ken borrows this line at the end of an episode of Digimon Adventure 02, despite being a hypocrite.
- Referenced directly in the Gag Dub of Ghost Stories, where Hajime exclaims, "And you would've gotten away with it too, if not for us meddling kids. I've been waiting five volumes to make that joke!"
- In One Piece, the Straw Hat Pirates would often be those kids in East Blue, when the crew only consisted of teenagers who were not famous pirates yet. Especially Kuro was annoyed by this trope several times. When Luffy got his first bounty, their surroundings started thinking of them as actual pirates and not just bunch of a teenagers, however.
- The Rubberrobo Gang tends to use the phrase verbatim in Medabots.
- Professor Cobra actually says this line in its entirety in an episode of the Season 3 dub of Yu-Gi-Oh! GX. Ditto for Bakura in the original's Season 5.
- There is an Archie issue where Archie and Jughead solve a crime and the crooks are being led away in restraints by the police. One crook complains about being stopped by a bunch of dumb kids and Jughead fires back "This 'dumb kid' is not the one wearing handcuffs!"
- In The DCU, Dick Grayson and Tim Drake investigate the sabotage of Grayson's circus. Eventually, they crack the case and catch the crooks. When one of the crooks says this quote, Grayson dismisses it saying that they were sloppy and the police would have figured it out on their own. However, since that would have created some really embarrassing press for the circus, it was better that the once and future Robins took care of this.
- The Pinky and the Brain story in the second-to-last issue of the Animaniacs comic book gave a Shout-Out to this in the form of Pinky's response to that issue's Are You Pondering What I'm Pondering?:
Pinky: I think so, Brain. But would the villains really have gotten away with it, if it weren't for those pesky kids and their dog?
- Klarion (bum bum BUM!) the Witch Boy inverted this in an issue of Young Justice. "I would've got away with it if it wasn't for you meddling grown-ups." Which is even cooler if you realize the grown-ups in question were kids in grown-up bodies.
- The Simpsons comic book once parodied this trope when Lisa, Bart and Milhouse exposed one of Burns' plans:
Burns: Without you and your dog, I might have succeeded!
Lisa: But we don't have any dog!
Burns: Oh, it must be one of mine then. [cut to one of his guard hounds growling behind the kids] I would advise you to run...
- The Boys gives us the Scotland version: "But I woulda got away wi' it, if it hadnae been for ye pesky interferin' wee cunts!"
- In The Day the Dursleys Came to Hogwarts Ludo Bagman attempts to steal eggs from the Triwizard Tournament dragons so he can pay his gambling debts to the goblins, only to be foiled by Harry and his friends.
Alastor Moody: I think that [the goblins] were just trying to remind Bagman that he owes them money.
Ludo Bagman: And I could have paid them back with the dragon eggs if it wasn't for you meddling kids!
- In This Means War, the warden of Azkaban is accused of taking bribes in exchange for releasing certain Death Eaters.
Claudia Striven: I followed all the ridiculous rules and no one suspected a thing, until your last inspection. I would have gotten away with it too, if it hadnt been for you pesky kids.
- Invoked by a very amused Varric in the first installment of Skyhold Academy Yearbook, when Evvy uncovers some secretive wrongdoing. "And they would have gotten away with it, too, if it hadn't been for that meddling art teacher."
- In Yu-Gi-Oh! The Abridged Series:
Pegasus: I can't believe I failed. All I wanted to do was steal an ancient Egyptian artifact, seize control of a billion dollar company, and resurrect my dead wife. And I would have gotten away with it too, if it weren't for those meddling—
Bakura: Don't you even think of making a Scooby-Doo reference!
- In Toy Story 3, Mr. Potato delivers this line on the background while he's distracting the security team in Sunnyside. Except they are "meddling toys".
- My Little Pony: Equestria Girls Magical Movie Night: The special "Movie Magic" is plot-wise very close to a Scooby-Doo episode. The actual line, however, isn't spoken till the next episode, "Mirror Magic", where the girls meet again with the culprit.
Juniper Montage: Ooh! This should be my night! I would have found a way to be in the film if you all had stayed out of it! I would have been Daring Do! Everyone would've loved me!
- In several episodes of The Little Rascals, the children successfully battled evil grown-ups, making this trope Older Than Television. It is arguably the Ur-Example.
- The first Wayne's World movie had Multiple Endings including a nonsensical Scooby-Doo one which used the phrase, "you snooping kids!"
- In the 2002 feature film, you have this variation:
Velma: These balloons fill with a highly potent helium synthesis, giving the Luna Ghost his weightless appearance.
Smithers: I would've gotten away with it, too, if it weren't for you meddling kids and your dumb dog! I'll get you for this!
- Then at the end as the true main villain Scrappy-Doo is arrested...
Scrappy-Doo: I would've gotten away with it too, if it weren't for you meddling sons of [chopper door slams shut]
- In the 2004 sequel Scooby-Doo 2: Monsters Unleashed, the real identity of the Evil Masked Figure Dr. Jonathan Jacobo says it.
Dr. Jonathan Jacobo: I would've gotten away with it too, if it weren't for those meddling punks and their dumb dog!
- In the 2002 feature film, you have this variation:
- A non-villainous example occurs in Message in a Cell Phone. The guy who previously pretended to be Felix Reiser turns out to be good, and he gives credit to the three main kids for bringing the Big Bad to justice.
- A main theme of the Animorphs series, where the kids were constantly foiling plots by the Yeerks. Ironically though, the Yeerks were unaware of the fact they were foiled by kids, believing instead they were fighting Andalite warriors.
- One of the Troperiffic chapter headings in Soon I Will Be Invincible is "And Now For Those Meddling Children".
- A line similar to this is delivered at several points, in dialogue or narration, in Galaxy of Fear, since the Arranda siblings and their uncle have an uncanny ability to stumble into trouble and foil plans.
- Most of the book series of the Stratemeyer Syndicate involved meddling kids in numbers from one (Nancy Drew) to six.
- The basic plot of the Mysteries specials in The Baby-Sitters Club series.
- Thomas Pynchon's Bleeding Edge mentions a (fictional) Scooby-Doo movie in which the gang join up with some Colombian street urchins to fight a South American drug lord. Predictably, it ends with the villain proclaiming that he would have gotten away with it "if not for you Medellín kids."
- One Heralds of Valdemar short story features the line "I would have gotten away with it, if it weren't for you meddling Heralds!"
- Meddling Kids by Edgar Cantero is an homage to the whole concept and the trope namers (although they also have elements of The Famous Five, including being called the Blyton Summer Detective Club). The meddling kids are now in their mid twenties and return to the lakeside community where they unmasked their last monster as teenagers only to end up confronting real Lovecraftian horrors.
- In Stargate SG-1, Daniel says "And you would have gotten away with it too, if it weren't for us meddling kids" after a bounty hunter fails to capture SG-1. That line is made even funnier when you realize that Michael Shanks ad libbed it because he hates when the characters explain to the villain what the audience already knows.
- The Sarah Jane Adventures' teenaged protagonists, with help from Intrepid Reporter Sarah Jane, meddle often in the plans of would-be alien invaders.
- Seen at the end of an episode of NUMB3RS in which Don, his team and his brother Charlie investigate spooky activity at a supposedly abandoned airbase. That was more of an inversion, though, as it was very ambiguous whether the person that said it was a villain at all, and he had helped them solve the case. He was also very wacky, talked in an invisible cell phone and appeared out of thin air. He also called three professors and an FBI agent meddling kids.
- Given a Shout-Out by Adam in an episode of MythBusters where the Build Team gets him to walk across hot coals unprepared in order to see if it really is a case of mind over matter. After he supposedly hurts himselfnote by running:
"And I would have made it across too, if it hadn't been for you meddling kids!"
- Said almost verbatim by the obnoxious aristocrat Ashton in the Suite Life on Deck episode "Kidney of the Sea," when London's dog Ivana literally sniffs out the evidence that he had attempted to frame Zack for grand theft.
- Said verbatim by Castle (putting words in the Killer of the Week's mouth) in "Wrapped Up In Death". It helps that the episode included multiple shout outs to Indiana Jones and Scooby-Doo.
- Happened on the Shake It Up! episode entitled "Whodunit Up" when they catch the custodian who kinda gives himself away, but the kids from the show are the first ones who realize who is the culprit.
- Hugh Dennis puts a spin on it for Mock the Week final round Scenes We'd Like To See.
Hugh: And the janitor would've got away with it, too, if it hadn't been for the photographs he'd taken of those pesky kids!
- Happens in an early radio episode of Our Miss Brooks, titled Student Government Day. Taking over their duly elected roles as mayor and police chief for a day, Harriet Conklin and Walter Denton raid "The Jackpot Amusement Company," a gambling ring placing crooked slot machines in the backrooms of candy stores. This is only after they're allowed out of jail by the sleazy mayor, who needs them to run the gangsters out of town after they become more trouble than the cut he's getting from them.
- In Magic: The Gathering, the Unhinged joke set has a card called Meddling Kids, which is also a reference to the real card Meddling Mage.
- Meddling Kids is the title of a RPG loosely based on Scooby-Doo and its kin.
- Hecatomb had a card named after this trope that would drain the mana of opponents.
Dr. Gilman: Little bastards.
- In Golden Sun: The Lost Age, one of the pirates delivers the line if you visit them in jail after turning them over to the local government.
- An optional line of dialogue in Sonic Chronicles. If you know how this goes, you'll know what to say.
- Baron K. Roolenstein (actually, just K. Rool under a Mad Scientist guise), the main antagonist of Donkey Kong Country 3: Dixie Kong's Double Trouble!, uses this line verbatim after his robot KAOS is defeated a second time.
- In Pokémon Ruby and Sapphire, the Team Aqua/Magma goons accuse you of being a meddling kid after you stop them from stealing the Devon Goods again in Slateport.
- Used by the Prophet in Final Fantasy X-2 if he is fingered as the culprit in the Mi'ihen Highroad mystery sequence. Complete with him speaking in his only voiced appearance in the game in voice that sounds just like Shaggy from Scooby Doo.
- In the web game Sonny 2, one villain says this after being defeated and unmasked. This is clearly a lampshade, as the characters in question are not actually kids.
- The human-disguised Harmoire says this when the hero and Curry capture him to foil his plans for the Sleuthhound Inn involving making the furniture come alive in AdventureQuest Worlds.
Curry: I can't believe you dunit! How dare you do this to the Sleuthhound Inn!
Harmoire: And I would have gotten away with it, if it weren't for you meddling kids!
- The Legend of Zelda:
- From The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time:
Ganondorf: The great Evil King Ganondorf, beaten by this kid?!
- Link has pretty much made a career of being this trope. Granted, destiny usually plays a hand in it, but even when it doesn't, he's still prone to meddling in whatever plan some villain is brewing up.
- From The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time:
- Champions Online: Parodied in the ending of the GRAB the Money and Run alert.
Cheshire Cat: We would've gotten away with it too, if not for those meddlesome...
Black Diamond: Oh, put a sock in it!
- One of the things Hazama is known to chide Makoto over during Continuum Shift is how she "puts her nose where it doesn't belong". The big problem with this statement is that they're both NOL Intelligence officers (he's her CO, at that), meaning that he's lecturing her over doing the very thing she is being paid for. Given how little Intelligence work he does (onscreen, anyway), he's in no position to tell her what she should or shouldn't be doing, so it's safe to say that if he ever brings this up, things are going to turn violent right now.
- The end of Slight Hope has Hazama spouting this trope at the proper time, with intent to torture and/or kill her over it as well.
Hazama: Honestly, though... I never expected YOU to turn out to be the proverbial squirrel in the ointment. Am I supposed to accept that this is another result of the continuum shift? I can't believe it's affecting the timeline like this... [...] Might as well ask for a pony, too, so long as you're wishing for unlikely things. Thanks to your flittering around doing as you please, my plans have gone fair-to-middling FUBAR! You're really starting to grate upon my nerves — sorry, but it's true. Relius was going to take care of you, but shit... I just don't think I can WAIT that long...
- Naturally, this is quoted at the end of the Scooby-Doo level in LEGO Dimensions, although with Lord Vortech addressing Batman, Gandalf, and Wyldstyle instead of the members of Mystery Incorporated.
- In Spandex Force 2: Superhero U Agent Stalker says this after the player character and several other students beat his Giant Robot.
- Ace Attorney Investigations has this at the end.
Quercus Alba: And I would have gotten away with it too, if it weren't for you meddling prosecutors!
- Parodied in the April Fool's Episode of Red vs. Blue. It Makes Sense in Context:
Grif: What the hell?! You just killed Simmons' ghost!
Donut: Wrong! That wasn't Simmons! It was Old Man Caboose!
Caboose: That's right! It's me. Caboose!
Omega (through Caboose): And I would have gotten away with it too! If it wasn't for you meddling kids!
- Nyan~ Neko Sugar Girls uses a variant:
Kidnapper: I would have had my way with him if not for those meddling kodomos!
- A How It Should Have Ended spoof of Captain America: The Winter Soldier has Captain America and his allies plan to foil HYDRA's scheme by tying up Alexander Pierce, then having Cap disguise as him and address the HYDRA moles. After they complete the first part offscreen, Pierce bellows the following:
Pierce: And I would've gotten away with it too, if it weren't for you sneaky kids and your disguise-o-mesh!
- Defeated Eternion says a variant of this line in Adventurers! (He then follows it up with a double My Friends... and Zoidberg)
Eternion: And I would have got away with it too if it wasn't for you pesky adventurers!
- Used word for word in this strip of Emergency Exit by the villain's second in command.
- Also used in this installment of The Order of the Stick.
- In Weregeek, Doug would have gotten away with using a projector to scare people if it weren't for those meddling NPCs.
- In Bloody Urban, Shaun thinks those meddling kids are actually alright. YEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE
- In Clockwork Game, Two boys see a man climb out of The Turk, a famous chess-playing machine, and run to the newspapers to reveal that it's a hoax. But they want money for their tale, which discredits them.
- In El Goonish Shive, this is referenced in the last panel of this strip. Later, after Ellen and Nanase foil more Scooby Doo Hoaxes they gain the nickname of the "Meddlers".
- A variation occurs in one April Fool's Day Episode of The Annoying Orange:
Midget Apple: And I would have gotten away with it too, if it weren't for that pesky Knife!
- In an effort to avoid bad guys swearing revenge on you How To Hero suggests that when a bad guy claims he would've succeeded had it not been for "you meddling kids" you should sit him down and explain to him all the flaws in his plan that would've prevented him from succeeding, even if you and your meddling friends hadn't interfered. The guide is confident that upon seeing their mistake the bad guy will declare revenge on themselves.
- The Trope Namer: While the exact wording sometimes varied, every episode of Scooby-Doo ended in this vein, making you wonder what the local police were doing all that time.
- There was a Continuity Nod to this in one of the newer episodes:
"Hey, are you meddling... kids?"
- A Pup Named Scooby-Doo consistently added "...and that mangy mutt!" and this seems to have become the most quoted version.
- Also played with in recent installments, such as when a villain attributes his capture to an unrelated character who'd tripped him as he was fleeing, or when two 10-year-old perpetrators claim they'd have gotten away with it, "if it wasn't for you meddling grown-ups!"
- Similar sentiments were often expressed in other Hanna-Barbera shows about crime-fighting teen with comic pet sidekicks: Josie and the Pussycats, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kids, The Funky Phantom, Speed Buggy, Clue Club, and Jabberjaw.
- Boomerang has a block devoted to such shows. Guess the name...
- Scooby-Doo! Mystery Incorporated holds a lampshade on it... in the first episode.
"Monster": That is until you...
"Monster": Meddling, yes, meddling kids, and your blasted dog ruined everything!
- The series then proceeds to goof around with it by making it a Mad Libs Catch Phrase. Often just "you meddling [X]", but sometimes a more involved joke including thanking the meddling kids, blaming the meddling kids only to have them point out that others were responsible for the capture, avoiding the phrase altogether and lampshading that something's missing, or even cutting off the line claiming that it's been overdone.
- Outright parodied when the criminal is one of the other kids at the gang's school, who points out that if he would have got away with it, "if it weren't for you meddling...peers."
- On another occasion, the villain says the classic "meddling kids" line, only for Mystery Inc. to point out that his scheme was so needlessly complicated that he probably would have messed up anyway.
- On yet another, after the villain gives the line, Mystery Inc. points out that she did get away with it; she didn't do anything illegal, just rude, and thus can't be arrested. She did however ruin her relationship with her sister, so she didn't quite get away with it.
- In Scooby-Doo! and the Legend of the Vampire, the group investigates the bizarre circumstances surrounding a music festival by posing as a band. Naturally, they're known as "Those Meddling Kids". Similarly, it's the name of one of the songs by recurring characters the Hex Girls.
- The criminal in Scooby-Doo and the Cyber Chase, the last of four videos depicting mysteries Scooby and his friends solve as adults, exclaims, "I would have gotten away with it if it hadn't been for..." Scooby's friends finish off the phrase with, "...us meddling kids!"
- Then there was the one where the villain said "interloping adolescents" instead. The gang promptly corrects him: "That's 'meddling kids'."
- In Scooby-Doo! and the Witch's Ghost, two crooks mutter "And we would have gotten away with it,too, if it werent for this meddling . . . writer!" This is then lampshaded by Shaggy remarking "Zoinks. Like, that's a twist." and Fred agreeing but saying that he hates when the bad guys call the gang kids. And then "The Meddling Kids" becomes the name of their band.
- In Scooby-Doo! Frankencreepy, one of the villains says they'd have gotten away with their revenge against "you meddling kids" if not for "you meddling kids".
- In one episode of What's New, Scooby-Doo?, they actually discover who the villain is before fully stopping their evil plan. The villain comments, "And I'll still get away with it, in spite of you meddling kids!"
- In Big Top Scooby-Doo!, After Whitney Doubleday is unmasked and captured, Velma says the mystery isn't over and Daphne agrees because she feels like a mystery isn't over until the bad guy gives the "you meddling kids" rant. Archambault is eventually exposed as a co-conspirator and gives the rant, making Daphne feel better.
- There was a Continuity Nod to this in one of the newer episodes:
- An episode of Futurama had a Corrupt Corporate Executive remark "And we would have gotten away with it too, if it weren't for those meddling adults!"
- In the second episode of Gravity Falls, the Pines twins find out that a giant lake monster was actually a robot controlled by resident crazy person McGucket. The unmasking scene plays out in classic Scooby-Doo fashion, until they ask him why he did it, and he very flatly tells them it was for attention, which is no doubt the real motive of 90-100% of the villains on Scooby-Doo.
- When Donald Duck foils one of his plans to shut down the House of Mouse, Pete remarks that he "would've gotten away with it if it weren't that meddling duck!"
- In an episode of Kim Possible, Kim cuts off a villain's post-foiling rant, citing the "meddling kids" line as cliche. The villain denies he was going to say it, but no one believes him.
- The Joker does a Shout-Out to this in an episode of Justice League. Referring to some superpowered children the government was trying to mold into tyke bombs, which he turns to his side, he states:
The Joker: And they would have gotten away with it too, if it weren't for me meddling with the kids!
- Subverted in the PBS Kids series Martha Speaks, in which the villain, being taken to jail, says "[The plan] would have worked, too, if it wasn't for... it not working."
- In Sideshow Bob's first speaking appearance on The Simpsons, he takes this to its logical conclusion, adding "Treat kids as equals! They're smarter than you think!" Considering that he had spent most of his time that episode running quality children's programming, it's an especially good point.
- South Park
- In the episode "Child Abduction Is Not Funny": "I would have gotten away with it too, if it weren't for those meddling policemen."
- In "Weight Gain 4000", Stan and Wendy (somehow) foil Mr. Garrison (really Mr. Hat's) plan to kill Kathie Lee Gifford, to which Mr. Hat replies "Yeah, and I would've gotten away with it too if it weren't for those meddling kids."
- Oddly enough, no variant of the line was used whatsoever in "Korn's Groovy Pirate Mystery," despite the entire episode being an Affectionate Parody of Scooby-Doo.
- Lloyd in Space, "The Ride Along", has this somewhat opposite version: "I almost got away with it too thanks to those meddling kids"... referring to Lloyd and his friend Eddie who turned out to have chased down an undercover cop (the real baddie was cornered by Eddie's dad).
- The Teamo Supremo Halloween episode (which itself completely parodied Scooby-Doo) used this trope.
- Lampshaded in Harvey Birdman, Attorney at Law:
Old Man Backoff: I would've gotten away with it, too, if it wasn't for—
Harvey: "These meddling kids..."
Old Man Backoff: No, the damn cotton market!
- A Shout-Out appears in the Daria episode "I Loathe a Parade" when an obnoxiously overenthusiastic mascot collapses at Daria's feet because he can't breathe through his lion costume and Daria charitably pulls the head off.
Mr O'Neill: Oh.. hello... where am I?
Daria: I can't believe it, it's Mr O'Neill!
Tom: And he would have gotten away with it, if it weren't for us meddling kids!
- Averted in the 100th episode of Aqua Teen Hunger Force, (in a Scooby-Doo parody, no less) when the number 100's dubious plan is foiled.
Number 100: And I would have succeeded, too, if it weren't for the fact that I failed.
- Hey Arnold! The Movie ends like this when the villain Scheck gets arrested for illegal demolition and says "And I would have gotten away with it, if it weren't for that meddling football head, that kid the weird stack of hair, and that brat with the one eyebrow."
- Episode 4 of The Amazing Chan and the Chan Clan has the crook calling the children "lousy kid detectives" after Anne and Flip foil his escape.
- In the VeggieTales video "Esther, The Girl Who Became Queen," the French Peas exclaim they would have successfully crushed King Xerxes with a piano "...if it wasn't for that meddling queen!"
- 1973-74 Super Friends episode "The Balloon People". After Noah Tall is captured by Superman he says "I could have gotten away with it if it weren't for you, Superman."
- Lampshaded in Danny Phantom - 'I always wanted to be called a meddling kid!'
- Parodied (amongst other villain Stock Catchphrases) with Dr Animo in Ben 10: Omniverse:
Animo: CURSE YOU, Tennyson! Curse you and your meddling way!
Ben: [to Rook] I told you he talked like that!
- The Season 4 premier episode of Celebrity Deathmatch uses this, when Johnny Gomez discovers that John Tesh killed Bob Costas in order to take his place as special guest spectator.
Tesh: And I would've gotten away with it too, if it hadn't been for your meddling sportscasters.
- The Funny Company had a villain who occasionally fumed "I HATE KIDS!!!"
- The Grim Adventures of Billy & Mandy:
- In the segment Nigel Planter and The Chamber Pot of Secrets, Dean Toadblatt says, "And I would've gotten away with it, too, if it weren't for you meddling kids and your stupid dog!"
- Sccoby-Doo expy Clue Club. More than a few villains expressed frustration that they would have gotten away with it if not for the "nosy" kids. Possibly adding insult to injury, at least a few of them only cited "three nosy kids", utterly discounting Dotty's contributions. Possibly justified. Larry and the others insisted on leaving Dotty at home to keep her safe. Revealing to desperate, potentially dangerous men that she cracked most of the clues might have put her in danger.
- Parodied in the Darkwing Duck episode, "Clash Reunion":
- In the first episode of Young Justice, when the Cadmus board of directors dismiss Robin, Aqualad, and Kid Flash as threats, Dr. Desmond warns that they are more than the typical meddling kids.