Caustic Critic

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The "real world" and "in-universe" examples have overlap. Either separate them completely, or merge into a single examples list.


"I hated this movie. Hated, hated, hated, hated, hated this movie. Hated it. Hated every simpering stupid vacant audience-insulting moment of it."

On paper, the job of a reviewer of any medium is to provide an evaluation of a given work in the medium, outlining its good and bad points and whether you should check it out. Useful, succinct, and an integral part of any entertainment industry.

Doesn't mean you have to be nice about it.

Enter the Caustic Critic, whose job it is not only to review the work in question, but also to call it names until it cries like a little girl. Why? Because it's funny. That said, the Caustic Critic is almost always rather divisive, especially when he takes on a generally well-liked game / show/ movie/ album/ book/ manga/ anime/ webcomic/ webcartoon/ fanfic/ platypus.

They need not necessarily be reviewers; they might be essayists discussing trends, but the spirit is the same.

Also note that some (perhaps even many) of the below examples do have human moments where they admit some of the things they review aren't all that terrible (or may even have special segments dedicated to positive commentary!).

Alternately, as the above quote implies, a usually constructive critic is tempted to bring out the sarcasm guns by a unusually bad work or product.

Compare Sturgeon's Law, which might either be the cause or the result of these critics (or both). See also Straw Critic and Accentuate the Negative. The Mean Brit is a Caustic Critic who gives immediate feedback in a competition setting, even if you're ten years old and your eyes shine with hope.

Not to be confused with Complaining About Shows You Don't Like.

Examples of Caustic Critic include:

Literature[edit | hide | hide all]

  • Ellsworth Toohey of The Fountainhead
    • Ayn Rand was one herself, which becomes obvious if you've ever read her denouncing anyone who didn't think like her in her essays.
  • Charlie Brooker, of TV Go Home, Charlie Brooker's Screenwipe and "guy who inspired Zero Punctuation" fame.
  • Dorothy Parker made her living as a literary and theatre critic, as well as writing several books of poetry and short stories. Famous for her acerbic wit, she's one of the most quoted writers in US literature. She's also known as a founding member of the Algonquin Round Table, the most prominent New York literary circle prior to World War II.

"This is not a novel to be tossed aside lightly. It should be hurled with great force."
"It is at that word 'hunny', my darlings, that marks the first place in The House at Pooh Corner at which Tonstant Weader fwowed up."
(on Katharine Hepburn) "She ran the gamut of emotions from A to B"

    • Probably the definitive quote on caustic humor:

"There must be criticism, for humor, to my mind, is encapsulated in criticism."

"Wasn't it remarkable! How could he see that little pellet fly through the air and enter that distant bullet-hole? Yet that is what he did; for nothing is impossible to a Cooper person. Did any of those people have any deep-seated doubts about this thing? No; for that would imply sanity, and these were all Cooper people."

  • Even Roger Ebert has been in on the act; he has said that in many cases it's more fun to write a review of a bad movie than it is to write a review of a good one (a sentiment voiced by several other critics). Many of his most negative reviews have been collected in his books, I Hated, Hated, Hated, Hated, Hated This Movie and Your Movie Sucks.
  • When not writing himself, Edgar Allan Poe was a well-known literary critic that tore apart everything, to the extent that he was known as "The Executioner".
    • Such was his reputation as "The Executioner" that when other authors, as critics reviewed Poe's work when he was active, they gave him retaliatory negative reviews, diminishing Poe's chances at lifetime success as an author.
  • Theatre critic George Jean Nathan unabashedly described himself as a destructive critic.
  • Leo Tolstoy, like Poe, is more famous for his own fiction, but he also mounted some scathing assaults on Der Ring Des Nibelungen and King Lear.
  • Discussed in Robert A. Heinlein's Time Enough for Love. See the quotes page for details.


Live Action TV[edit | hide]

  • Mark Kermode of The BBC has a (deserved) reputation for this, especially regarding Pirates of the Caribbean including some suggestions that everyone involved with a movie hang their heads in shame, that a film be buried in an underground bunker filled with toxic waste, and that a film was akin to the experience of smashing one's head into a glass door elongated to ninety minutes.
    • See also his rants, er, opinion of all Transformers films, Sex and the City 2, Angels and Demons, etc.
  • Hecklers Statler and Waldorf added a grumpy (and extremely popular) streak of critical humour to the The Muppet Show.
  • Penn and Teller Bullshit.
  • Top Gear does this, particularly the modern incarnation and to older cars. Jeremy Clarkson has related a story about car manufacturers getting angry and retaliating by threatening to "take all our advertising off The BBC". The BBC doesn't have any advertising.
    • Jeremy Clarkson (and presumably the rest of the Top Gear team) also passionately hates the Toyota Prius and went out of his way to prove how absolutely terrible the car was in every way (including the obvious, but even fuel efficiency).
  • Adam Sessler of X-Play
    • "I'd rather french kiss my grandma than play this game."


Magazines[edit | hide]

  • Private Eye's "Literary Review" (by "Bookworm") and "Eye TV" (by "Remote Controller"). On one occasion when Bookworm quite liked a book, the letters page was filled with complaints that this wasn't like him at all.
  • Lucius Shepard, who writes film reviews in The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction. Blockbusters are analyzed as representing problems with American culture.


Music[edit | hide]

  • Robert Christgau defines this trope.
    • Sonic Youth wrote a song about him entitle, "I Killed Christgau With My Big Fucking Dick" after he labelled their music "pigfucker music". Also Lou Reed ranted about him on a live album.


Newspapers[edit | hide]


Professional Wrestling[edit | hide]

  • Bryan Alvarez from Wrestling Observer Radio/F4W can best be described as tough but fair. Though when he sees something stupid he lashes out at it like a shark smelling blood.
  • Chris Hyatte from Scoops Wrestling and the early days of 411 Mania was a mixture of this and a rare example of a malicious Cloudcuckoolander. From placing a bounty on the daughters of Tony Schiavone's Daughter to turning the Villainos into an infamous crime family Hyatte's columns were a mixture of Non Sequitur and Refuge in Audacity. Sadly the end of Scoops and his falling out with several websites, have made his body of work hard to find.
  • Bill & Doug (RVDTito4Life) and Kent Jones, who claimed to be the first YouTube "shooter", which is a misnomer since he's not in the professional wrestling business. Bill & Doug, meanwhile, actually became shooters when they were hired by TNA to host their online show, TNA Addicts.
  • Noah Antwiler on The Spoony Experiment spin-off Wrestle Wrestle.
  • Jim Cornette. The emotion of "vague or minor but tolerable dislike" does not seem to exist for this man.


Theatre[edit | hide]

  • In 1964, Israeli critic Khayim Gamzu wrote a review about a play named Sammy Will Die At Six O’Clock. The play was praised and glorified by pretty much every critic, except Gamzu, whose entire review was, ‘As far as I’m concerned, he could have died at five o’clock.’ This review was a huge surprise to many, and Efraim Kishon coined the word ligmoz,[1] meaning ‘to criticise brutally’.


Web Original[edit | hide]

  • The Angry Video Game Nerd
  • Cinema Bums features Statler and Waldorf in a meta-example, providing caustic criticism to caustic critics in this comic.
  • Maddox of The Best Page in The Universe.
  • Being a collection of caustic critics is the stated mission of Pajiba. Their tagline is "Scathing Reviews. Bitchy People."
  • Professor Otaku of the Desu Des Brigade, with anime.
  • In the same fashion: Klaus Von Hohenloe, anime and game reviewer… who literally despairs [dead link] when he has nothing to complain about. Nor does he know what he should rate a good anime with.
  • Mr. Cranky
    • Sometimes. At times, he's obviously not very serious, and gives the movies some slack (i.e.: THIS PART OF THE MOVIE BLOWS FUCKING DUCKS. WHO THOUGHT OF IT? DID I MENTION IT'S A MISPLACED PROP?) In addition, he lists actual flaws and appears to like bits of the movie.
  • The Filthy Critic, who applies his withering criticism and wanton misanthropy not only to movie reviews but episodes from his (mostly fictionalized) daily life as well. Well-known for his obsessions with porn, beer, and at times disturbingly graphic metaphors, perhaps used most eloquently in his Jeepers Creepers review.
  • The Necro Critic. He reviews both bad movies AND bad videogames.
    • And as of recently, is even reviewing anime.
  • Many of the reviews on Rotten Tomatoes for Epic Movie, Meet the Spartans, and Disaster Movie ended up like this.
  • Screw These Comics was a site that did this for sprite comics, and had a group of characters review a given in dialogue. Eventually, the creator quit after realizing his own reviews had degenerated into the same kind of things that he criticized bad sprite comics for overusing. Where once the team would look at a comic's points legitimately while making fun of it, toward the end many reviews consisted solely of variations of the exchange:

Nes: Well, I think the comic is--
EvilNes: SHUT THE FUCK UP NES YOU STUPID FAG THIS COMIC SUCKS!

  • Retsupurae is this for Let's Play.
  • Seanbaby was one of the original online personalities to do this.
  • Smash Japan.
  • Comixology's Tucker Stone, he is well educated and uses the full extent of his thinking power to utterly take apart mainstream comic books.
  • Something Awful's reviews of movies and older videogames go here.
  • Noah Antwiler, also known as The Spoony One, of The Spoony Experiment, who is presently in the middle of giving tons of old FMV games this treatment.
    • He also does this a lot with the movie reviews he use to do for a magazine that are posted on his website. Oddly enough, when he did a Let's Play of Phantasmagoria 2 he noted that the he though the first game, which was one of the featured FMV games, was good and mostly just aged poorly.
    • He very memorably did this with Final Fantasy VIII, and was so funny that even some fans of the game enjoyed it. He later moves on to Final Fantasy X, a game that while he despises, he also notes that he enjoyed the combat.
      • It's worth noting that he seemed to exhibit a very thorough knowledge of FFX, and obviously spent quite a bit of time with optional quests. He probably doesn't really hate the game as a whole, but Rule of Funny very much applies when ripping on certain characters and moments.
        • Spoony refuses to follow the obvious path and review Final Fantasy IX, despite intense fan demand.[2] His stated reason is that he's been told the game is pretty good, and he reviews bad games and movies. In the FFVIII review he does hate on the FFIX character designs, but in the audio commentary he admits that he just can't get past the art style despite it being "massively unfair", and says he probably couldn't give the game an objective review because of his own hang-ups.
    • On his new site, Wrestle Wrestle, he's just as caustic about the current general state of Professional Wrestling.
  • Television Without Pity
  • The Sturgeon Awards. The blogger will review anything he hates. However, he has written a positive review of Genetos.
  • The FireBlog gives text reviews of overrated TV shows, and is currently working on The Middle. It will also make fun of idiots on IMDb. Apparently, nobody is safe from the Fire Blogger.
  • That Guy With The Glasses as The Nostalgia Critic does this to old kids’ shows and movies.
    • The site also features The Nostalgia Chick, the Critic’s female counterpart.
    • Linkara who reviews old comic books that suffer from poor writing, bad artwork, and various other problems.
      • Though not unusually vitriolic for this trope, Linkara is somewhat more dedicated to it than others listed here having repeatedly rejected fan requests to review good comic books stating that the whole point of his regular feature is to rant about the bad stuff.
    • The Distressed Watcher is even more of a caustic critic than anybody on the website, covering trailers specifically, and is so hateful about it that a lot of the site’s members hate him.
      • It is worth noting that the Distressed Watcher is also known as The Amazing Atheist, who is another controversial personality. Clearly, the actor enjoys being controversial.
      • Many, many of the reviewers on TGWTG fit this trope, to the point where it would take up a lot of space to list them all here. Visit the show's character page for a more comprehensive rundown.
  • John Solomon of the now-defunct webcomic review blog, Your Webcomic Is Bad And You Should Feel Bad.
  • Yahtzee of Zero Punctuation, with a heavy emphasis on "caustic".
  • This blogger reviews the Goosebumps books. He... doesn't like many of them.
  • There are quite a few websites dedicated to bad movies; here are a just a select few:
  • Parodied in this comic where the Ninja is being a harsh critic over a Valentine card saying there's no plot, feeling or charm and says he can do better, only to basically make a threat card rather than a Valentines card.
  • RedLetterMedia's Mister Plinkett. He's also a Deconstruction and a satire of the stereotypical wannabe- critic youtuber's usual online persona: what kind of person would be as devoted, nerdy and angry to actually write a 60 minutes long review of Star Wars Episode 1, carefully deconstructing all of its flaws? Answer: Not a nice one.
  • Since 2005, Mike Smith has been going through the entire Harry Potter series, chapter by chapter, and giving detailed analysis as to why he thinks they all stink (largely because of its Padding to Doorstopper levels).
  • The former WoW podcaster Total Biscuit (aka Total Halibut aka the Cynical Brit) loved the game back when he did postcasts, and still won't hesitate to rag on every perceived slip up, and outright tells anyone who doesn't like his reviews "there's the door". He thoroughly believes that reviews have to be critical to be effective.
  • Although not formal critics, pretty much every user at the RPG Codex forum is this for any video game even nominally considered an RPG. Generally they consider most modern games, especially ones by Bethesda, to be "bland, banal, boring, shit" and refer to them as 'popamole'.
  • In Fanfiction.net, there are various fanfics that follow the initiative of The Nostalgia Critic. The Insane Critic and E350 are a special case because they review bad fanfics and they are the most known in their niche.
  • Confused Matthew: He makes a point of targeting movies that were better reviewed and received than he thought they should be. He actually ends up playing devils advocate occasionally on movies that he feels got an excessive negative reaction. The common opinion he disagrees with is what has him confused.
  • Wanna see someone try to be a caustic critic only to have the work he's harping on turn out to be be a classic game which he never actually played? Here ya go
  • Mark of Mark Reads Twilight was this towards Twilight, but only because it deserved it.
  • Ishkur's Guide To Electronic Music
  • SF Debris, although what he mainly seems to be caustic towards is poor writing and idiocy. When he reviews something that is actually good, Chuck tends to lapse into impassioned monologues about why the work is so good. Even in otherwise terrible works, he takes time aside to point out things that are done well.
  • Busy Street represents a Meta example of this. Thrashing and picking apart other internet "Angry Reviewers".
  • Film Tracks. When they don't give a positive review to an established composer, they will mercilessly trash a score by a newcomer, a score that features guitars and scores by Hans Zimmer and his company (though the third one is done by most film score circles). They also infamously trashed Trent Reznor's score to The Social Network and suggested that the soundtrack would make better use as a frisbee.
  • The Bad Webcomics Wiki is an entire wiki based on this. Due to the fact that it has many people, not all of whom are qualified critics, and many new members seem to be under the impression that it's a troll site where they can flame at comics they dislike, the quality, accuracy and fairness of the reviews may vary, but it doesn't change the fact that a considerable percentage of the comics reviewed are simply bad, one way or another.
  • Derek the Bard is caustic towards terrible books (and sometimes terrible movies based on good books).
  • Mr. Coat and Friends, although to a much lesser degree than similar sites.
  • Subverted, strangely enough, by The Rageaholic, who is not all that caustic; most of his reviews tend to be positive to neutral, and he'll even point out the good with the bad (and the bad with the good); heck, despite spending much of the Fallout: New Vegas review going after it for being standard Obsidian fare, he still cops to liking the game. Even more bizarrely, he was one of relatively few critics to give a good review to Duke Nukem Forever.
  • Reddit, Hacker News, and Slashdot are full of programmers who love to rip their least favorite programming languages, coding paradigms, etc.
  • Despite his own opinion (he says he's mixed almost equally on negative and positive reviews) Youtube user Razorfist AKA "The Rageaholic" is an easy fit. Do NOT compare him to Yahtzee.


In-Universe Examples[edit | hide]

Film - Animated[edit | hide]

Film - Live Action[edit | hide]

  • From the descriptions of his typical reviews, Mortimer Brewster of Arsenic and Old Lace seems to be one of these.

Live Action Television[edit | hide]

Theater[edit | hide]

Video Games[edit | hide]

Web Original[edit | hide]

Western Animation[edit | hide]

  1. לִגְמֹז
  2. including one fan who harassed him about it during the TGWTG charity drive