Chew Out Fake Out

Everything About Fiction You Never Wanted to Know.

Junior is in trouble. He tried to pull off the greatest prank he could think of, but it went horribly wrong—mostly because he got caught. Now the principal has suspended him and he has to face his parents.

His dad takes him aside and is giving him a stern look. Junior knows this is it, his chickens have come home to roost, he's going to be grounded until the cows come home, and he won't see daylight again until the hogs catch their 9 am flight to Miami. After an unbearable silence, dad has only one thing to say: He thinks what Junior did was hilarious, and he's pretty proud that he managed to pull it off.

In short, this trope is where a character expects to be dressed down by an authority figure, only to find out the authority figure is pretty impressed. What Junior did was still wrong, of course, but Dad doesn't care so much about that little detail.

If the authority in this case is an official one (commanding officer, for example), they'll likely give a reprimand that both parties recognize as a token nod to the rules. If it's a parent, it's almost always the father.

Compare Arson, Murder, and Lifesaving, Not So Above It All, and Milholland Relationship Moment. May include Do Wrong Right if afterward the parent/authority gives the protagonist tips on how to not get caught next time.

Examples of Chew Out Fake Out include:

Comic Books

  • Tim Drake/Robin, after losing nearly all of his biological family, sets up an actor to pretend to be his fake uncle so that he doesn't have to go into the foster care system. Batman, being Batman, naturally finds out, and Robin assumes he's about to be reamed out for going behind Bruce's back... but all Bruce can say is that he's so proud of Tim for taking the initiative, and gives him some tips on how to make the deception foolproof.
  • In the old Super Mario Bros. Valiant comics, Bowser and Lemmy Koopa take Toad (dressed as Muk) and the Mushroom King's (dressed as Pipe Ooze) place at a Dirk Drainhead cosplay convention. He was training Lenny in the ways of being evil and decided to let him "have fun" for a while. Lemmy, being a huge Dirk Drainhead fan, mentions that since they're acting out the story in which Muk pulls a Heel Face Turn, he has to attack Pipe Ooze. What follows is Lemmy beating the shit out of Bowser. At the end of the story, he asks Bowser if he failed his test, to which Bowser replies that he gets extra points for beating up a family member.


  • In Sky High, Will Stronghold trashed the school cafeteria, got into a fight, and used his powers when he wasn't supposed to. His dad punishes him by telling him no Xbox for a week. Will protests that he doesn't have which point his dad reveals he's so proud of him for having powers that he bought him one.
    • In Will's defense, any damage he did was in self defense against a super-powered bully-a fine point usually lost on high school principals, as it was in this case.
  • Young con artist Frank Abagnale gets his start in Catch Me If You Can by taking over his French class, including teaching, assigning homework, and having parent-teacher conferences and taking a field trip. While his mother is suitably disappointed with the naughty boy, Frank Senior can only grin and laugh that his boy had the balls to pull it off.
  • In Kindergarten Cop, Arnold beats the snot out of a man who's been beating his kid. The Principal takes Arnie into her office, and he expects her to throw him out of the school. But regarding the beating, the only thing she has to say is to ask how good it felt to smack him around.
  • In The Incredibles, Dash gets in trouble for placing a tack on the teacher's chair. His father is more impressed by the fact that Dash managed to avoid being caught on a hidden camera than upset about the prank.
  • In a scene cut from Love Actually (but included in the DVD extras), Karen (Emma Thompson) is called to her son's school because his teacher is upset by a theme paper he wrote, in which he described how the world would be different if people's farts were visible. Karen listens attentively to the teacher and principal, and then quietly takes her son into the hallway to talk to him;

Bernie: Sorry, Mum.
Karen: I'm sorry too, Bernie. Sorry and ashamed and embarrassed... that I have put you in a school with such total and utter pricks that they don't get a good gag when they see one! I mean, this is high-class comedy. This is first-rate stuff! Look, you're my son and obviously I have to love you. But right now, I really love you! (Mother and son dissolve into laughter)

  • In A Bridge Too Far a tough old sergeant (Played by James Caan in the movie) has just held a surgeon at gunpoint to force him to work on the sergeant's commanding officer. As soon as the surgeon is done, the Sergeant gives him his pistol. The surgeon chews him out slightly, and places him under arrest, for sixty seconds. The surgeon in question had declared the man dead on arrival and refused to waste time on a corpse. In order to convince him otherwise the sergeant pulled a gun and ordered the surgeon to treat him anyway. After a quick examination the man was found to be both alive and have good chances of survival. Until that point, neither the audience nor the sergeant had been given any indication that the officer had been alive at all.
  • In the third Mission: Impossible film, Ethan has been brought into HQ because his superiors think he's gone rogue ( He's really trying to save his wife, who has been kidnapped by the villain). As he's lying immobilized, his immediate superior begins chastising him (for the benefit of those listening in), while simultaneously mouthing an escape plan, knowing that Ethan can read lips.
  • In Thor, Sif and the Warriors Three are discussing what to do about Loki taking the throne, and they worry that Heimdall might be watching them. He is, and calls them to his post, gravely asking them if they really plan to defy their king's explicit orders, which Sif admits to. Heimdall immediately exclaims, "Good!" and lets them do just that.



Dumbledore: You both realize, of course, that in the past few hours you have broken perhaps a dozen school rules.
Harry, Ron: Yes, sir.
Dumbledore: And that there is sufficient evidence to have you both expelled.
Harry, Ron: Yes, sir.
Dumbledore: Therefore, it is only fitting that you both receive [pause] special awards for services to the school.

    • In Chamber of Secrets, when Harry arrives at the Weasleys', Molly, who is in fact scornful of how he got there (her sons stole their flying car), all Arthur could ask was "how was it?", which Molly berates him for.
    • Also happened in The Sorcerers Stone when Harry decided to get on a broom to chase after Malfoy, despite Madam Hooch explicitly telling them not to. Professor McGonagall arrived, hauled him inside and put him on the Quidditch team.
  • In the Lord Peter Wimsey short story "Talboys", Peter's eldest son catches a snake and Peter is expected to tell him off, but as soon as the two are alone, he not only tells his son that he thinks it's actually pretty cool, but conspires with him to use it to prank an unpleasant guest.
  • In Nicholas Nickleby, John Browdie appears that he's going to beat the crap out of Nicholas for attacking Wackford Squeers and rescuing Smike. Instead, he congratulates him for a job well done.
  • At the end of Feet of Clay, the Patrician summons Commander Vimes to his office. He notes that in the course of investigating an attempt to poison Vetinari, Vimes has managed to infuriate all the important figures in the city, and therefore he clearly has no choice but to increase the man's wages.
  • Captain Pellew of the Horatio Hornblower series excels at this.

Live Action Television

  • Matthews has a word with Deborah in Dexter after she says the f-word during a press conference. He tells her that he took a lot of crap for promoting her, and that not 24 hours later, she's already proven...that he made the right choice; that kind of bluntness was exactly what he wanted from her.
  • Malcolm in the Middle: When Hal goes to visit Francis's military school, he's at first appalled that all Francis is doing is goofing off, playing pranks, and getting into all manner of trouble. But when he learns that Francis is doing it to Stick It To Commandant Spengler, who is unnecessarily cruel, Hal is all sorts of proud of his son.
    • Later Hal tries to do this by yelling at one of his sons while whispering what he really thinks. Unfortunately when his son speaks he gets mixed up, and ends up whispering a recrimination and yelling out the thing he doesn't want Lois to overhear.
  • In the children's sitcom Out Of Tune, the Vicar discovered his niece Midge had been modifying the buttons on Tony's suit to make him think he was getting fatter or thinner throughout the episode.

Midge: Are you angry...?
Vicar: Angry? I'm furious... furious I didn't think of it first!

  • How I Met Your Mother actually has a version of this, spousal instead of parental. Marshall loudly rebukes Lily for forgoing her morals for cash (accepting money to paint a nude picture of Barney). In between his chastisements, he whispers to her that he's actually glad she found a way to get so much cash and is criticizing her as loud as possible so that Barney, in the next room, will come back in and offer even more money.
  • In Scrubs, Dr. Kelso delivers a lecture during which he mentions a recent case in which Dr. Reid gave a patient a course of treatment that resulted in his death. He then gives her kudos for having the balls to act instead of equivocating over the best course of action, during which time the patient likely would have died anyway.
  • In Babylon 5, Sheridan chewing Ivanova out for threatening to airlock a reporter - and not specifying that he would be stripped naked first. After all, one shouldn't waste perfectly good clothing in the middle of a rebellion.
  • Happens in Home Improvement when the kids get revenge on a bully by gluing his butt crack closed. Tim, the father, is impressed and makes only a token effort to tell them they were wrong, and that only after his wife gets mad.

Real Life


  • Assassin's Creed II has this gem around twenty minutes into the game, shortly after Ezio Auditore has a gang battle and a night of passion with his girlfriend. Ezio returns to his home, seeing his father at the door, expecting the worst when...

Giovanni Auditore: This behaviour is unacceptable... it... it... *laughs* it reminds me of myself when I was your age!

  • In City of Villains, a high-level story arc has you helping apsiring Mad Scientist Vernon Von Grun. After one mission where his creations ran amok in an Arachnos lab, Arbiter Daos asks to speak to both of you.

Arbiter Daos: We've been watching you help out Vernon von Grun, (Character). In fact, we've had our eye on him for a while now. Von Grun is a genius, alright. He's also reckless, immoral, obsessed, and likely a danger to everyone around him. In other words, a perfect mad scientist candidate. We've been wondering when he'd finally make his big break, and it looks like what he needed was some professional help. A pro-level villain, I mean. Like you.



  • In Double K, Kamina tells Kittan the story of a drug bust he handled, and he honestly expects the goody-two-shoes Kittan to berate him over it. Kittan instead proclaims, tears in his eyes, that it's the greatest story he's ever heard, and reveals that he's just as crazy as Kamina, and that his by-the-book image was just a fake-out so he could transfer to another department.

Western Animation

  • In the Danny Phantom episode "13", Danny intentionally lets himself get caught spying on Jazz and Johnny. When his parents find out, they initally seem angry... But then quiety congratulate and thank him for doing so, before yelling in earshot of Jazz not to do it again, and then quietly tell him to do it again.
  • Occurs in Generator Rex, when the protagonist's pseudo-father-figure acknowledges that Providence may have denied him just a bit too much normality in his life.

Agent Six: Sneaking off to spring break was foolish and irresponsible and... completely normal for someone your age.

  • Happens in the Extreme Ghostbusters episode "Grundelesque." Kylie is nearly-despondent about disobeying Egon, but he tells her that she did the right thing, and that he was working from a faulty sample.
  • In the American Dad episode "Francine's Flashback", when Hayley confronts Jeff over him going out with her mom to make her jealous.

Jeff: Did it work?
Hayley: DID IT EVER! (cue makeout)