• Before making a single edit, Tropedia EXPECTS our site policy and manual of style to be followed. Failure to do so may result in deletion of contributions and blocks of users who refuse to learn to do so. Our policies can be reviewed here.
  • All images MUST now have proper attribution, those who neglect to assign at least the "fair use" licensing to an image may have it deleted. All new pages should use the preloadable templates feature on the edit page to add the appropriate basic page markup. Pages that don't do this will be subject to deletion, with or without explanation.
  • All new trope pages will be made with the "Trope Workshop" found on the "Troper Tools" menu and worked on until they have at least three examples. The Trope workshop specific templates can then be removed and it will be regarded as a regular trope page after being moved to the Main namespace. THIS SHOULD BE WORKING NOW, REPORT ANY ISSUES TO Janna2000, SelfCloak or RRabbit42. DON'T MAKE PAGES MANUALLY UNLESS A TEMPLATE IS BROKEN, AND REPORT IT THAT IS THE CASE. PAGES WILL BE DELETED OTHERWISE IF THEY ARE MISSING BASIC MARKUP.


WikEd fancyquotes.pngQuotesBug-silk.pngHeadscratchersIcons-mini-icon extension.gifPlaying WithUseful NotesMagnifier.pngAnalysisPhoto link.pngImage LinksHaiku-wide-icon.pngHaikuLaconic
"Y’know how when you’re dating someone and you don’t want to cheat on them, unless it’s with someone really hot? Well this is the same kind of deal. If you're gonna do something wrong, do it right!"
Joey, Friends

A comedy trope where after Alice intentionally does something immoral or bad, Bob finds out and instead of yelling at her for doing it, he yells at her for not doing it correctly. It can also apply to situations where, for example, after Alice takes Bob's sports car out for a drive without asking and returns, instead of scolding her, he asks her, "How did it run?"

May sometimes overlap with Not Cheating Unless You Get Caught. Related to Insult Backfire and You Make Me Sic. See also Because I'm Good At It. May come after a Chew Out Fake Out. See Dick Dastardly Stops to Cheat for doing wrong, wrong.

Examples of Do Wrong Right include:

Anime and Manga

  • In one episode of Samurai Champloo, a pair of twins have been writing graffiti on every surface they can get their brushes on. When their former teacher sees this, he complains that it's awful... Their grammar is terrible.

 Teacher: "They should be ashamed,"

Woman: "I agree,"

Teacher: "Dammit! YOU'RE WRITING IT WRONG!"

  • Control Freak Chiri Kitsu of Sayonara, Zetsubou-sensei does this quite a lot. She has a scene where she angrily objects to thugs beating someone half to death- not because she finds what they are doing wrong, but they need to beat him more so he's actually halfway between life and death.
  • Similar to the Real Life example below, at the beginning of the Chunin Exams in Naruto, the written test has a single-point penalty for being caught cheating. Why? They were being encouraged to gather information stealthily.



 Roman Centurion: [upon seeing graffiti vandalism] What's this, then? 'Romanes Eunt Domus'? 'People called Romanes they go the house'?

Brian: It-- it says, 'Romans, go home'.

Centurion: No, it doesn't. What's Latin for 'Roman'? Come on! [pinches earlobe]

Brian: Aah!

Centurion: Come on!

Brian: 'R-- Romanus'?

[after a lot more discussion on the proper grammar]

Centurion: Now, write it out a hundred times.

Brian: Yes, sir. Thank you, sir. Hail Caesar, sir.

Centurion: Hail Caesar. If it's not done by sunrise, I'll cut your balls off.

  • In The Incredibles, Dash gets sent to the principal's office for using his Super Speed to put a tack on the teacher's chair during class. His father is genuinely impressed, especially about how Dash went too fast to be picked up on video.
  • In The Movie of The Addams Family, Morticia spots Wednesday carrying a cleaver. When she asks, "Is that for your brother?" and Wednesday nods, Morticia replies, "I don't think so"... and hands her daughter a bigger cleaver.
    • It could be a case of Blue and Orange Morality - Morticia knows her kids try to kill each other all the time. The first cleaver isn't big enough to do the job properly - but the second is.
  • In Spaceballs, as Lone Star is infiltrating the mothership, he tries incapacitating a guard using the Vulcan nerve pinch. Unfortunately, the guard doesn't collapse. Instead, he turns to Lone Star chastising him for doing it wrong and instructs him on the correct technique. He then falls unconscious.
  • A similar gag to the one from Life of Brian happens in Michael Moore's satire Canadian Bacon, about a drummed-up war between the United States and Canada. A group of gung-ho Americans drive through Canada in a van covered with anti-Canadian graffiti. A Mountie pulls them over to reprimand them...because in Canada all signage needs to be in English and French.
    • Incidentally, that law exists only in Quebec.
      • Not quite - the law in Québec says that the signage must be in French, and if it is bilingual, the French text must be bigger and on top.
  • In Sky High, Will Stronghold is suspended for fighting in the halls, but his father, the superhero Commander, is thrilled because his son finally developed superpowers. He grounds Will with "No Xbox for a week", before telling him that he had bought Will an Xbox.
  • In Monsters, Inc., Mike Wozowski corrects Randall's pronunciation of 'cretin', saying "If you're going to insult me, do it properly."
  • A sinister example in Ransom: A police detective comes across the kidnappers' hideout, apparently by mistake. He sneaks in, discovers the whole operation, surprises the only thug present and holds him at gunpoint. It looks like the kid is saved! The cop then... scolds the thug for not protecting the hideout properly. He's a Dirty Cop, in fact the mastermind behind the kidnapping, and he merely tells his conspirator not to be so stupid in the future.
  • Pop quiz: You're an old guy who just got out of the hospital for a heart attack. You go to a diner for some grub and get harassed by knife-wielding delinquents. What do you do? Well, if you're Hub McCann, you start teaching them proper knife-handling technique before they cut their own fingers off...



  Professor McGonagall: It unscrews the other way.

  • The Redemption of Althalus: after Dweia shows the assembled group examples of what has been happening in Perquaine (noblemen and priests collaborating to do whatever they want, which includes raping peasant women and seizing a well belonging to a peasant village so a nobleman can grow crops and throw the peasants out), someone asks why they're interfering in the rebellion, as it looks to be long overdue, and Dweia responds that the wrong people are leading the rebellion.
  • In Dorothy L. Sayers' Strong Poison, Bill Rumm is a thoroughly reformed cracksman. But he still can admire a good job and disapproves of dynamiting open safes.
  • In the Discworld novel Feet of Clay, the proprietor of the Dwarf Bread Museum is hit over the head with a loaf of bread (this is more serious than it sounds; dwarfs make bread to last, and not necessarily to be edible). His ghost laments to Death what a terrible waste this was ... there's a dent in the crust.

 "What was wrong with a simple cosh? Or even a hammer? I could have provided one if asked."

    • In Witches Abroad, Granny Weatherwax confronts her elder sister in the climax of the book and spends a good chunk of it berating her. For a lot of things; for disappearing when they were both young at a time that was hard for the whole family, for robbing Granny of the choice of whether to be the good sister or the bad one by running off and being the bad one, but most of all because the entire time, the last seventy-someodd years, Lilith has made herself the villain of the piece while being convinced that she's the good sister. Granny tells her that she could have at least had the common decency to enjoy herself in being the bad one, and raves about how much better a villain she, Granny, would have made, because she would have embraced being the bad one rather than deluding herself; but she had to be the good one, and when you know right from wrong you can't choose wrong.
  • When Phules Company started, Sushi was extremely annoyed by Do-Wop, whom he called "petty thief" in his face. Do-Wop didn't notice which word was emphasized until it was pointed out to him directly, along with the minimum prize value Sushi (a former white-collar criminal) considered worth any risk at all.

  Phule: If I understand you correctly, Sushi, your objection to Do-Wop is not the fact that he steals, but rather the scale he operates on.

  • This is a bit of a stretch, but in the political novels by Anthony Trollope, the liberals had been trying to pass a particular bill, but had lost power to the conservatives. The conservatives set out to pass that very bill which gives the liberals apoplexy. It was exactly what they had wanted, but for it to be actually enacted by the conservatives was somehow doing it wrong.
  • In the Knight and Rogue Series Fisk is endlessly exasperated with Michael's inability to lie.
  • In Azincourt, Hooke and Lord John have this conversation (paraphrased). Hooke: "I hit a priest." John: "You did a bad thing Hooke. Beat You should have killed him!"
  • In the Merchant Princes novel The Family Trade, when Miriam confesses to sleeping with Olga's fiancé Roland, Olga asks if Roland was any good.

Live Action TV


 Hohepa: Steve didn't blow up his car. It was me.

Mr Gormsby: Me what?

Hohepa: Me, sir. I've been having some pretty negative feelings lately, sir. Alienated from my friends, I've had some feelings of resentment towards authority figures. Sir.

Mr Gormsby: Don't give me that Tibetan-mung-bean, I-wasn't-breast-fed-as-a-child, family-conference stuff! Blowing up machinery can be a commendable act in the right circumstances, but this is not El Alamein, and we are not fighting the Hun! Still, it would be churlish of me not to acknowledge that the sabotage was well planned and perfectly executed. You were a bit heavy-handed with the volatile substances, but I put that down to the fact that you probably helped yourself to chemicals and machinery from your uncle's methamphetamine lab.

Hohepa: *nods*

Mr Gormsby: Typical. Never use chemicals you haven't mixed yourself! It makes it much harder to estimate possible collateral damage.

  • One episode of Battlestar Galactica Reimagined has Chief Tyrol find some of his deck crew illegally distilling their own alcoholic drinks on the flight deck. He proceeds to explain that their setup is exactly wrong and likely to make somebody blind, and tells them to come back later to show them how it's done. (This might be considered an inversion of this trope, since the toxicity of mis-made moonshine is a real danger, and thus doing it wrong really is the worst part of what they're up to.)
  • Colonel Potter does almost the exact same thing in his first appearance on Mash, explaining that he received his WWII Purple Heart in Guam when a still blew up in his tent.
  • Hannah Montana. "If I still liked a guy, I would have done the same thing." "Really?" "Well, I would have done it a little better."
  • In a short on You Can't Do That on Television, a brave Mountie confronts the Dastardly Whiplash tying the Distressed Damsel to the railroad tracks... to correct his knot-tying technique.
  • The Adventures of Brisco County Jr has Brisco playing poker with another guy, both of them cheating constantly until finally Brisco wins with five kings to the other man's five queens. The man gladly accepts the loss with "He cheated me fair and square."
  • In one Friends storyline, pregnant vegetarian Pheobe is agonising over her Wacky Cravings, and occasionally nibbling on peices of leftover meat. Joey gives her the following advice:

 Joey: Y’know how when you’re dating someone and you don’t want to cheat on them, unless it’s with someone really hot? Well this is the same kind of deal. (drops two steaks in front of her) If you're gonna do something wrong, do it right!

  • In an episode of Good News Week that aired the week after ex-Prime Minister John Howard had a shoe thrown at him on live television, Mikey talked about the event, saying that after the event had occurred, he had never been so ashamed of being an Australian... because it was the worst bloody shot he'd ever seen!
  • Happens between Fran Fine and the Sheffield children quite a few times on The Nanny. For instance, in "The Butler, the Husband, the Wife and Her Mother", when Fran's sister-in-law dismissively realizes that Fran is a nanny, not Maxwell Sheffield's wife, Maggie says "Who asked you, you big green cow?!". Fran, however, calmly says "Maggie, it's turquoise...".
  • On Babylon 5, Ivanova threatens to throw a reporter out an airlock. The reporter isn't happy and complains to Sheridan. Sheridan rips into Ivanova - for not specifying that the reporter would be "stripped naked and thrown out an airlock." After all, they shouldn't waste perfectly good clothing. Hilarity Ensues.

Music Videos

  • A gag near the end of Brad Paisley's music video for Celebrity has a character inspired by Simon Cowell (played by William Shatner) invoke this trope. He stops Brad in the parking lot, and the following exchange occurs:

 Shatner: Hey! Where's my... Hey! Get out of my car!

Paisley: I was... I was just-

Shatner: Get out of my car! It's a valuable car!

Paisley: It's really nice...

Shatner: (checks information on car dashboard) You put 200 miles on my car!

Paisley: Second gear... sticks a little bit.

Shatner: You got it into second gear?

Paisley: Yeah?

Shatner: How'd you do that?


Newspaper Comics

  • In one Zits strip, Jeremy and Hector are caught driving their unregistered van on the streets. Jeremy's dad asks three questions: "Are you okay?" "Was anyone hurt?" and "How did it handle?"
  • FoxTrot had an early strip where Andy is attempting to scold Peter for going 90 mph in their car, while Roger is more interested in how it handled, and whether Peter thought it could've broken 100.
  • In an early April 2011 Beetle Bailey Sunday Strip, Sgt. Snorkel caught Beetle drawing insulting pictures of him on building exteriors throughout Camp Swampy. So Sarge hired an art teacher for Beetle.
  • In the German comic Ingo Pien about humanized penguins. A neonazi sieg-heils in court. The judge reprimands him: "If you ever do the 'sieg-heil' again... do it smartly!"

Video Games

  • Dr. Brigid Tenenbaum in Bioshock was such a scientific prodigy, she would assist the Germans with their experiments and even correct their scientific errors — while imprisoned in a Nazi prison camp.

 Dr. Tenenbaum (audio diary): 'Well,' I said, 'if you're going to do such things, at least you should do them properly.'

  • Happens regularly in Eve Online: Player thieves, spies and saboteurs are frequently chastised for either using Paper Thin Disguises or blowing their covers too early.

Web Comics


 Thanatos: Really, Audriel. If you insist on distrusting me, at least take a good go at it, not this half-assed snappishness for the sake of appearances.


Web Original

  • In one episode of Teen Girl Squad, Tompkins gets called into the Principal's Office. We find out why in an Easter Egg at the end:

 Tompkins: Aw, c'mon, [sic] Prinicpal Strong Bad! I only stole one Sega tape!

Strong Bad: That's just it, Tompkins. You could have stolen upwards of one Sega tape!

Tompkins: Aw, peas!

  • In Entry #46 of Marble Hornets, Alex's reaction to Jay breaking into his house is less 'I'm mad at you for this' so much as it's 'you suck at breaking and entering'.

  Alex: You broke into my house! I was taking out the trash! What were you possibly hoping to find in that amount of time?


Western Animation

  • One of the pilot shorts for The Powerpuff Girls, "Crime 101", had the girls trying to teach the Amoeba Boys how to commit crime.
    • Of course, the girls end up getting arrested for it.
  • In King of the Hill, Hank Hill catches Bobby smoking and decides to punish the boy by forcing him to chainsmoke until he's green in the face. Hank then feels compelled to correct his son's smoking technique: "If you're going to do something wrong, do it right."
  • In an Anthology of Interest episode of Futurama, Leela murders Hermes, and is trying to dispose of the corpse using the food disposal. Bender enters, leading to the following line:

  Bender: Hermes' dreadlocks? And his arm?! Leela. I'm shocked! Food goes in the disposal, hair and flesh go in the trash!

  • In The Simpsons, Bart gives Homer an altered report card containing straight A-pluses. Homer quickly realises that they were previously D-minuses and chides Bart for getting greedy. "You know, a D turns into a B so easily."
    • Before that on the bus ride home, Lisa lamented that he should have forged plausible grades.
  • In Wander Over Yonder, this is a point of contention with the zealous Lord Hater and Commander Peepers. When they part ways in "The Axe", Lord Hater brings out the guns and blasts through the ranks of the Galactic Villain Leaderboard until he's finally contacted by a fellow villain who has no patience for Hater — in brief — knocking over his icons and doing "stupid dances", declaring that to be a victory, and briefly lectures him about what goes into being an "evil ruler".

Sourdough: I conquered this entire quadrant. And I'm a sandwich!


Real Life

  • Mark Twain, on when his wife repeated his cursing: "You got the words right, Livy, but you don't know the tune."
  • According to a rather shocked French ambassador, the most widespread reaction among the more politically powerful of England's aristocracy in the wake of Earl Essex's failed rebellion against Queen Elizabeth I was not so much outrage as contempt for how poorly it was planned; many of those people said (in private conversation, of course) that had they been doing it, they would've done it much better and would've won.
  • After the failed terror attack on Glasgow Airport in 2007, many in the national press and entertainment industry lamented how poorly planned and executed it was.
"It was just another ramraid, after all."
    • There were two failed car bomb attacks the previous day in London, organised by the same group of incompetents. One was parked illegally and was promptly ticketed and towed away before being routinely inspected (whereupon the bomb was discovered). The other was abandoned suspiciously in front of witnesses. When smoke began to come out, the police were called and the bomb was discovered. The whole thing was planned so badly, no one could really believe that there had been any danger. More info on the other wiki.
    • Hilariously summarised by Adam Hills.
  • This is a general sentiment behind any "dumb crooks" spotlight: "If you're gonna commit a crime, at least do it right."
  • Robert Erskine Childers, Irish Nationalist, told his firing squad to take a few steps forward so that they didn't miss. Likewise, Cicero told his executioners "There is nothing proper about what you are doing, soldier, but at least try to do it properly". He out-badasses Childers because he said that line holding his neck out for a gladiator to cut off. Holy balls.
  • Politicians are frequently upset when their own policies may be implemented in such a way that the credit will go to their political opponents. And that's all that needs to be said about THAT.
  • Harry Houdini once wrote a book entitled "The Right Way to Do Wrong".
  • When the documentary "Major Fraud", about how Major Charles Ingram and his wife cheated their way to a million on the British edition of Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?, was uploaded to YouTube, several of the comments were about how obvious their cheating was, and gave examples of less-detectable ways to do it.