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This is a form of boast where a person claims that he is the best at something by bringing up the names of people who are well known for being good at that thing and then claiming that all of those people are second rate compared to him. May be a type of behavior found in the Narcissist, who naturally believes that he's the best at everything.
Note that the insulted person does not have to be someone who is well known for the trait in Real Life. It could be a person who is known for it in-universe. In this case, his fame will be established beforehand.
For even more outrageous claims, see Blasphemous Boast.
- The Chessmaster in the 2000 AD strip Caballistics, Inc. is one Ethan Kostabi, an eccentric 1970s former rock star strongly resembling David Bowie. Whenever Kostabi's success as a musician is described, comparisons are always made to Bowie, and Bowie is always described as having been greatly inferior—having sold fewer albums and having "scavenged a career out of the discarded fads and influences that Ethan left in his wake".
- Reed Richards of The Fantastic Four is widely regarded as the smartest human in the universe. Even his enemies- The Wizard, The Mad Thinker, The Mole Man and others- have great respect for his intellect, if only because they think he is the one man on Earth capable of appreciating what they have done. But then we get Doctor Doom, the one man on the entire Marvel Universe who thinks Reed is a hack, a fraud, and a complete and utter moron, and is fairly fond of reminding everyone in earshot of his feelings Every. Single. Issue.
- As indicated by the page quote, Vizzini from The Princess Bride thinks that he is smarter than Plato, Aristotle and Socrates.
- Thrax, an anthropomorphic virus, in Osmosis Jones: "Ebola is a case of dandruff compared to me!"
- At one point in the film adaptation of Watchmen, Adrian Veidt of Veidt Enterprises boasts to the heads of major corporations that he's worth more than all of them combined and can "buy and sell them all three times over". At least one of the other corporate representatives Adrian is addressing directly is a Real Life figure—Lee Iacocca, who is known for having revived the Chrysler Corporation in The Eighties.
- On The Sword in the Stone, Madame Mim brags about being a better wizard than Merlin, "The world's most powerful bungler."
- The James Thurber short story "Something to Say" is built around Eliot Vereker, a supposedly great author whose reputation is based entirely on disparaging really great authors, e.g., "Santayana has weight: he's a ton of feathers. Proust was sick. If Voltaire did not exist, it would not be necessary to invent him, etc., etc."
- In P.G. Wodehouse's "The Clicking of Cuthbert," Russian novelist Vladimir Brusiloff opines: "No novelists any good except me. Sovietski—yah! Nastikoff—bah! I spit me of zem all. No novelists anywhere any good except me. P.G. Wodehouse and Tolstoy not bad. Not good, but not bad. No novelists any good except me."
- In A Study In Scarlet, Dr. Watson praises Sherlock Holmes by comparing him to Edgar Allan Poe's Auguste Dupin and Emile Gaboriau's Monsieur Lecoq. Holmes counters that "Dupin was a very inferior fellow" and "Lecoq was a miserable bungler."
- When Deep Thought from The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy mentions that it is the second most advanced computer, its operators name some other advanced computers that exist in the universe, but are casually dismissed.
- Guards Guards has an instance where this is used, but the character in question is being described by the narration rather than doing the bragging himself.
Compared to the Patrician of Ankh-Morpork, Machiavelli couldn't have run a whelk stand.
Live Action TV
- House has occasionally referred to other respected members of the medical community as "idiots". A rare example of this being justified, as House usually does turn out to be smarter than they are.
- Simon inverts this in Firefly, describing how, although he's incredibly intelligent, he's not even second-rate compared to River:
I am very smart. I went to the best Med-Acad in Osiris, top three percent of my class, finished my internship in eight months. "Gifted" is the term. So when I tell you that my little sister makes me look like an idiot child, I want you to understand my full meaning.
- Happens in the Flight of the Concords episode "Tough Bret":
"Eminem is not very good. 50 Cent is not very good. Snoop Dogg is not very good. Mos Def is not very good. But the Rhymnocerous is very very good!"
Dick: I made the front page of The Daily Badgerian again.
Tommy: What's it say?
Sally: [reading headline] "Physics professor calls Einstein idiot; proclaims self much smarter."
"You know how Einstein got bad grades as a kid? Well, mine are even worse!"
- In Tony Hawk's American Wasteland, the main character says this in reference to a well-known Badass named Iggy Van Zandt:
Main Character: "Iggy's a punk. I'm a freaking badass."
- In Portal 2, after being called a "moron" one too many times, Wheatley decided to prove his intelligence by reading Machiavelli (or claiming to, anyway) and commenting on how easy it was.
Wheatley: Do not understand what all the fuss was about. Understood it perfectly. Have you read it?
G La DOS: Yes.
Wheatley: Yeah, doubt it. Well, on with the test!
- Mr. Mechanical from Freedom Force is a disgraced architect with an army of giant robots trying to destroy a city both because of its "inferior designs" and because they "sabotaged" one of his buildings (in truth, the building collapsed on its own). In his final rampage, he makes insulting remarks about Gropius and Frank Lloyd Wright.
- Uwe Boll: "I'm not a fucking retard like Michael Bay or other people running around in the business, or Eli Roth making the same shitty movies over and over again. If you really look at my movies, you will see my real genius, you know?"
- Philippus Aureolus Theophrastus Bombastus von Hohenheim took this to its logical extent by naming himself as Paracelsus. Aulus Cornelius Celsus was a Roman encyclopedist who had written what had been one of the seminal tracts on medicine from Rome to his era, including such things as surgery, identification of the fever as a defense mechanism, and cancer, and the name "Paracelsus" literally meant that Philippus Aureolus Theophrastus Bombastus von Hohenheim was "greater than Celsus." To be fair, in the time of Philippus Aureolus Theophrastus Bombastus *gasp* von Hohenheim, the primary method of medical treatment was purging and bloodletting stemming from the "humourism" and traditional ancient treatments from the golden era of Rome and Greece passed down from Hippocrates and Galen, so he may have had some reason to buff his already-copious ego.