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In media involving certain businesses, it is inevitable that a specialized inspector, or critic, will come sooner or later to rate the business, usually holding its fate by his/her rating. Cue the employees working hard to keep everything in good condition to get a passable rating.

Hilarity Ensues if someone unrelated gets mistaken for the inspector. Compare House Inspection.

Examples of The Inspector Is Coming include:


  • Ratatouille
  • The Inspector General is a Danny Kaye movie, in which a vagrant is arrested in a small European town, and is mistakenly believed to be an inspector from the crown. It's based on the below-mentioned play, The Government Inspector.
  • An old Polish comedy featured a story about a hapless lab technician who accidentally takes a hydrometer with him after leaving work. He goes to a restaurant, orders a drink and absentmindedly starts stirring the drink with the hydrometer. The restaurant manager sees this and thinks that the guy is a government inspector testing if the restaurant is watering its drinks. As the protagonist is leaving the restaurant he is handed an envelope with money as a bribe to not report the restaurant. Once he figures out what happened he starts regularly going to restaurants with lab instruments and supplements his income with the bribe money.
  • We Bought a Zoo
    • Ferris seems very harsh and acts like a jerk, but once he can't find any faults with the restored zoo, he passes them and wishes Benjamin good luck, although he still maintains that the zoo will probably fail and refuses to attend, as this would count as fraternization. There's also no proof beyond MacReady's word that Ferris stole his ideas.


  • In George McDonald Fraser's semi-autobiographical tales of Army life, The General Danced At Dawn, the General of the title story is conducting a full inspection of the Gordon Highlanders, who lurch from one catastrophe to another. The only things that save the Scottish soldiers are Highland dancing and bagpipe music - at the General's instigation, the Regiment dance progressively longer and more complex Highland dances until they break the world record with a 256-some. This pulls in Arabs and German prisoners-of-war to make up the numbers.

Live Action TV

  • A Fawlty Towers episode has Basil mistaking an officious idiot for a hotel inspector.
    • Another episode had a health inspector episode.
  • In The Nanny episode "The Butler, the Husband, the Wife and Her Mother", Niles is anticipating the arrival of inspectors of the Professional Butler's Association to determine whether he's qualified to join. Unfortunately, Fran's mother Sylvia is trying to impress their in-laws by telling them that Fran's married to Maxwell Sheffield, and with Maxwell out at the time they arrive, Fran makes Niles pretend he's Maxwell. Worse, the inspectors arrive to evaluate Niles' performance. When Maxwell returns, Maxwell has to pretend he's Niles.
  • In Mash, there are a number of episodes with this trope as the focus. In one, Father Mulcahy becomes highly tense when he learns that the head chaplain of the army was coming to inspect his good works. In another, a particularly harsh top-level nurse comes to inspect Margaret's nursing staff, which results in Margaret herself becoming particularly harsh in an effort to satisfy her (she is relieved and happy at the end of the episode when the inspector rates her staff "satisfactory"). Somewhat lampshaded in another episode, where an inspector comes to learn about how the 4077 runs in order to duplicate it... but the entire camp becomes overrun with speculation that the inspector plans on breaking the camp up.
  • The Beverly Hillbillies: a "rich" socialite from back home comes to visit the Clampetts, with the Hidden Agenda of trying to marry Jed for his money. She gives the place the once over.

 Adeline: I just wanted to see where some of these things is from. I see most of 'em is from France and England.

Granny: That's good, isn't it?

Adeline: Not to me. All my stuff comes from much further away then that. It's made in Japan.


  • The Government Inspector by Nikolai Gogol: corrupt local government officials panic when they hear there's an inspector in town, but the guy they suspect of being him is a case of mistaken identity. Similar to the Fawlty Towers example.
    • And yes, the real inspector is on the way.


  • The Open for Business expansion pack for The Sims 2 lets you become a business owner. Once in a while a writer will come in and inspect your business, and depending on the state that it's in, will either give you a positive or negative review, affecting your business accordingly. You can do positive interactions and improve the environment to increase your chances of a good review. Bad interactions with either you, your staff, or other customers will make it more likely for them to write a negative one.

Western Animation

  • Rocket Power
  • In one episode of SpongeBob SquarePants, a health inspector visits the Krusty Krab. Mr. Krabs and Spongebob "kills" him with a bad Krabby Patty (thinking he was the fake inspector mentioned on TV) and try to bury him, but he's still alive.
    • In another episode, the Krusty Krab gets a visit from a prominent food critic. Despite everyone's best efforts, the critic gives a bad review, except for SpongeBob, which leads to Mr. Krabs going overboard with making everything SpongeBob-themed, down to serving rotten patties that look yellow and spongy.
  • Bob's Burgers: Pilot episode.
  • Beavis and Butthead: a health inspector visits the boys while they're working at Burger World.
  • Futurama: The beginning of "How Hermes Requisitioned His Groove Back".
  • On House of Mouse, the club is expecting a critic. Mortimer is mistaken for the critic and takes advantage of Mickey's hospitality.
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