"The Reason You Suck" Speech/Literature

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  • In Nineteen Eighty-Four, once Winston has been imprisoned and tortured, O'Brien inflicts this endlessly on him.

"We have beaten you, Winston. We have broken you up. You have seen what your body is like. Your mind is in the same state. I do not think there can be much pride left in you. You have been kicked and flogged and insulted, you have screamed with pain, you have rolled around the floor in your own blood and vomit. You have whimpered for mercy, you have betrayed everybody and everything. Can you think of a single degradation that has not happened to you?"

Vimes: You are standing there in your shiny breastplate and your silly helmet and your sword without a single notch in the blade and your stupid trousers and you are telling me that you let my wife be taken away by werewolves?
Captain Tantony: It was the Baron--
Vimes: And you don't argue with Barons. Right. You don't argue with anyone. Do you know what? I'm ashamed, ashamed to think that something like you is called a watchman. Now give me those keys.

    • Actually, name one Discworld novel where this doesn't happen at some point.
    • Special mention goes to Lords and Ladies, where the glamor projected by the Fair Folk is enough that it makes Magrat (who has just gotten a long-awaited boost of confidence) shrink, and wither, and feel worthless for having even thought of hurting the Fairy Queen. The Fairy Queen invokes this without a word.
    • Granny Weatherwax loves these. Every time she has a major part in a novel you can bet that right around the climax she'll be all up in the villain's grill telling them exactly why that thing they were so sure they were justified in doing is wrong, and why the very reason they even thought it was justified in the first place is the same reason she's about to kick their ass.
    • Going Postal has this from a golem to the Dirty Coward Moist von Lipwig. It's something of a kicking off point for his evolution into a better man.

Mr. Pump: You have killed two point eight people [twenty-two point eight in the tv movie]... You have stolen, embezzled, and swindled. You have ruined businesses and destroyed lives. When banks fail, it's not bankers who starve. In a thousand small ways, you have hastened the deaths of many. You did not know them. You did not see them bleed. But you snatched bread from their mouths and kicked their homes out from under them. For sport, Mr. Lipwig. For sport. For the joy of the game.

  • In the Harry Potter series, Voldemort has something of a talent for these. He gives one to Harry in The Chamber of Secrets, one to Harry and all of his Death Eaters in The Goblet of Fire, one to Dumbledore AND Bellatrix in Order of the Phoenix and one to pretty much everyone in The Deathly Hallows.
    • Especially Ron. He gave Ron a "Reason You Suck Speech" pretty much everyday when he was wearing the horcrux. Then it kinda climaxed, into a ghostly image of Hermione not only telling him every reason he sucks, but every reason he's afraid he might suck.
    • Dumbledore does this to Voldemort a little in Order of the Phoenix. Then Harry goes and tops it in Deathly Hallows.
    • In the latter case, it's immediately on the heels of Voldemort's Reason You Suck Speech.
  • Glaurung the father of dragons delivers a phenomenal one to Anti-Hero Turin Turambar in The Silmarillion by JRR Tolkien:

Glaurung: Evil have been thy ways, son of Hurin. Thankless fosterling, outlaw, slayer of thy friend, thief of love, usurper of Nargothrond, captain foolhardy and deserter of thy kin. As thralls thy mother and sister live in Dor-lomin, in misery and want. Thou art arrayed as prince, but they go in rags; and for thee they yearn, but thou carest not for that. Glad may thy father be to learn that he hath such a son; as learn he shall.

  • These happen quite a lot in the Skulduggery Pleasant series. Nefarian Serpine enjoys giving them regularly to Skulduggery in the first book, Baron Vengeous gives a few to Skulduggery in Playing With Fire and gets two particularly savage ones for China Sorrows.
    • Skulduggery himself lays a thoroughly satisfying one on Davina Marr in Dark Days while Dreylan Scarab gives one to Thurid Guild.
  • Valentine Morgenstern gives Imogen Herondale a deservedly savage and scathing one that results in her almost having a nervous breakdown.
  • Ender gives a very nice one to Bonzo Madrid in Ender's Game.

Ender: Bonzo, your father would be proud of you. He would love to see you now, come to fight a naked boy in a shower, smaller than you, and you brought six friends. He would say, Oh, what honor. Be proud, Bonito, pretty boy. You can go home and tell your father, Yes, I beat up Ender Wiggin, who was barely ten years old, and I was thirteen. And I had only six of my friends to help me, and somehow we managed to defeat him, even though he was naked and wet and alone - Ender Wiggin is so dangerous and terrifying it was all we could do not to bring two hundred.

    • The speech saves his life.
  • In Dreaming of Amelia by Jaclyn Moriarty, one of the main characters, Emily, wants to do Law at university. For this she needs a signed form from her principal, but she hasn't got it back. She finally works up the courage to go see him...

Mr Ludovico: Do you really think you have what it takes to be a lawyer? Lawyers are adults. Let's take a look about what it means to be an adult, shall we? Adults are independent. You, Emily, can't seem to take a step in any direction without Lydia and Cassie by your side. An adult would simply work hard to improve his marks. You, Emily, make foolish requests to have your marks altered. An adult is a rational being. You ran around last term obsessing over Amelia and Riley, and this term you're shouting to the world-- including, I might add, on some childishly hysterical blogs-- that there's a ghost living in the Art Rooms at this school! You are every inch a child, Emily, and I see no indications that you will ever grow up. Now, let me ask you this. Would I be doing my job-- would I be carrying out my responsibilities are principal of this school-- if I signed a form that allowed you to be a lawyer?

    • Emily protests that there is a ghost, and Mr Ludovico tells her that if she can prove it, he'll sign the form. Emily finds evidence and returns...

Mr Ludovico: In the last few weeks, my school has been overrun with hysteria about your ghost. Students are refusing to enter the Art Rooms. Teachers can't get their students to concentrate. You have infected my entire student body with your childishness. There is no ghost, and yet, if I didn't sign this form, your parents would be in this office in an instant. Taking some kind of legal action, no doubt. Not letting me get away with it! Protecting their little girl! I always intended to sign it. Just thought I might try to teach you something about the real world first. Help you to grow up a little. But now I see you're a lost cause.

You are the Devil. Yes. They lied to you. The Devil is not the Prince of Matter; the Devil is the arrogance of the spirit, faith without smile, truth that is never seized by doubt. The Devil is grim because he knows where he is going, and in moving, he always returns whence he came. You are the Devil, and like the Devil, you live in darkness. If you wanted to convince me, you have failed. I hate you, Jorge, and if I could, I would lead you downstairs, across the grounds, naked, with feathers stuck in your asshole and your face painted like a juggler and a buffoon, so that the whole monastery would laugh at you and be afraid no longer. I would like to smear honey all over you and roll you in feathers and take you on a leash to fairs, to say to all: He was announcing the truth to you and telling you that the truth has the taste of death, and you believed not in his words but in his grimness. And now I say to you that in the infinite whirl of possible things, God allows you to imagine a world where the presumed interpreter of the truth is nothing more than a clumsy raven who repeats words learned long ago.

  • Pride and Prejudice gives us one from Elizabeth Bennet to Mr. Darcy. And boy does it burn.
    • Elizabeth also recieves one from Lady Catherine. It's burn is...signifigantly less.
  • The good guys get one in Lois McMaster Bujold's The Vor Game when Gregor finally tells off Cavilo, pointing out that she's been treating the Emperor of three worlds as a naive newbie.

Commander Cavilo, both my parents died violently in political intrigue before I was six years old. A fact you might have researched. Did you think you were dealing with an amateur?

  • Jesus in the Left Behind book Glorious Appearing delivers his own to Satan, the Antichrist, and the False Prophet.
  • In one Cicada short story, the main character's parents on the brink of divorce are having an argument over the mother talking to her boyfriend while they were watching a Christmas special. After the mother berates the father for his "Catholic martyrdom" and expecting people who make mistakes to spend the rest of their lives on their knees, he responds with "You're stuck. You're going to wake up on the day you die and realize you hasn't changed one bit."
  • In the X Wing Series, Wedge Antilles is comfortably on the border between Sergeant Rock, The Heart, and the Reasonable Authority Figure. He really chews out some of his pilots when he sees the need. Kell Tainer, someone with a marked tendency to fold when he's needed, once asks for Permission to Speak Freely?, and when it's granted says "Every time I hear one of your 'motivational speeches' I want to beat you to death."
  • In The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn , Sherburn plays this trope HARD. "Then he says, slow and scournful, 'The idea of YOU lynching anybody! It’s amusing. The idea of you thinking you had pluck enough to lynch a MAN!'" etc.
  • In Elantris Sarene gives a nasty one to to Iadon.

Sarene: Defiance, Iadon? I think you'll feel differently when everyone knows the truth. You know they already think you a fool. They pretend to obey you, but you know-- you know in that whispering part of your heart that they mock you with their obedience. You think they didn't hear about your lost ships? You think they weren't laughing to themselves at how their king would soon be as poor as a baron? Oh, they knew. How will you face them, Iadon, when they learn how you really survived? When I show them how I rescued your income, how I gave you the contracts in Teod, how I saved your crown. You are a fool, Iadon. I know it, your nobles know it, and the world knows it. You have taken a great nation and squashed it in your greedy hands. You have enslaved the people and you defiled Arelon's honor. And, despite it all your country grows poorer. Even you, the king, are so destitute that only a gift from Teod lets you keep your crown. How will it look, Iadon? How will it feel to have the entire court know you are indebted to a woman? A foolish girl at that? You would be revealed. Everyone would know what you are. Nothing more than an insecure, trivial, incapable invalid."

Mrs. Reilly: You learnt everything, Ignatius, except how to be a human being.

  • In Death: This has popped up from time to time. A pretty nice one is when Eve gets attacked by Complete Monster Isaac McQueen in New York To Dallas and Eve tells him that he should have just run and hid somewhere for awhile after he broke out of prison. Instead, he decided to go after her. She concludes with "You're just fucking stupid!" He does not take that well.
  • Everworld: Senna Wales dishes these out like they're going out of style. Jalil, The Smart Guy, recognises this, Hangs a Lampshade on it, and deconstructs one of her speeches point for point. He and Merlin the Magnificent team up to give Senna a joint The Reason You Suck Speech in Book 11.
  • An Elegy for the Still-living: Francis delivers one of these to himself near the end. He does not feel too cheerful afterward.
  • The Remains of the Day: At the end of the book, Stevens at last can articulate the truth in a The Reason We Suck Speech for Lord Darlington and himself. Lord Darlington played Head-in-The-Sand Management for the Nazis, and at the end of the day, he can say he was wrong and take the responsibility like a man. Stevens never did anything for himself, and he cannot say even that.
  • In The Fox in the Chicken Coop by Ephraim Kishon. The Yes-Man finally snaps and calls the politician out on his incompetence, how he still doesn't leave politics to make room for someone else, and the stupid joke he always tells.
  • In Warrior Cats, after her sister Ivypool pushes one too many of her Berserk Buttons, Dovewing tells Ivypool exactly why she thinks Ivypool is a terrible cat who deserves to rot in the deepest corners of the Dark Forest for all eternity.
    • Squirrelflight also gives one to Jayfeather in Faded Echoes after he treats her and Leafpool like crap for two books straight.
    • Leafstar gives one "The Reason You Suck" Speech of her own to Sol in After The Flood when he steals her kits just so he could become a warrior.
  • In the first Dragonriders of Pern novel Dragonflight, Masterharper Robinton delivers a scathing one to the Lord Holders when they complain that Benden Weyr is asserting too much authority over them in the fight against Thread. Robinton reminds the Lord Holders that most of them treated Benden Weyr like crap for centuries and recently rode out to attack the Weyr because they thought there were no more Threads. Robinton then says that Benden has every right to leave the Holds to be eaten by Thread after all of that, and that the Lord Holders should shut up and do whatever the Weyrleader thinks is necessary to survive the return of the Threads. The speech makes F'lar very grateful that Masterharper Robinton is an ally of Benden Weyr and not an enemy.
  • Aftran does "the reason you humans as a whole suck" speech in Animorphs, when she's talking to Cassie in "The Departure". She tells Cassie how humans suck because they don't appreciate the beauty of the world they live in and that they complain about the Yeerks enslaving them, but they do the same thing to their own livestock.
  • Admiral Ackbar gives a memorable one to an Obstructive Bureaucrat and his supervisor during The Black Fleet Crisis.

Ackbar: Bureaucratic nonsense. Whatever happened to taking the measure of a man's courage, his honor--the fight in him, and the reasons in his heart. Do they all have to be as stamped-and-pressed alike as stormtroopers to get your approval? Get out."

(Bureaucrat flees)

Supervisor: Admiral, we could certainly reconsider the application if you could just give us the context for your concern-

Ackbar: The context. "It's not enough that a man is willing to put on a uniform and fight alongside people he's never met, just because he shares an ideal with them--no, his offer must come from the right context, and his school papers must be in order, and his arms not too long, and his blood type stocked in the combat medivacs. How things have changed. I can remember when we were glad for anyone willing to fight beside us.

Supervisor: Admiral--there have to be standards-

Ackbar: Major, ask yourself how many of the everyday heroes of the Rebellion--not just the names everyone knows--would have qualified to fight for their freedom under your rules. And then ask yourself if that answer doesn't make you look just a bit like a dewback's cloaca.