Created By: Kersey475 on July 22, 2011 Last Edited By: PistolsAtDawn on November 21, 2014

Fighting Back Is Wrong

An {{Aesop}} where fighting back against bullies is a bad thing.

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Trope
Do We Have This One?, Needs a Better Title?

This is a Aesop in which fighting back against a bully is portrayed as a bad thing. Often involves the message that sinking down to the bully's level will make you no better or even worse than they are and may be a way to maintain the status quo of the bullies picking on the main characters.

This can apply to more serious villains as well, but fewer shows will take take the extreme stance that fighting back against serious threats is wrong.

If a show like this features a Bully Hunter they will be portrayed as misguided or really just bullies themselves. Compare to Turn the Other Cheek and Actual Pacifist. See also If You Kill Him, You Will Be Just Like Him.

This may end up being a Double Standard Aesop or Broken Aesop, if the nerd is shown as wrong to do the exact same thing the jock was doing to them.


Examples

  • In Danny Phantom, Danny is regularly bullied by the Dash, but every time Danny uses his powers to retaliate it often backfires on him. One episode even has Danny apoligizing to the Dash and he gives Danny a wedgie before accepting the apology.
  • Real Life: Countless numbers of books and professionals about bullying will almost always say that fighting back is the wrong option.

Up for Grabs
Community Feedback Replies: 40
  • July 22, 2011
    robybang
  • July 23, 2011
    69BookWorM69
    Seen It A Million T Imes Bully starts something, the victim fights back, and both get busted for fighting with little or no attention paid to the initial provocation.
  • July 23, 2011
    Kharonthe
  • July 23, 2011
    robybang
  • July 24, 2011
    StrangeDwarf
    This policy also disregards Fridge Logic: according to law, if someone attacks you you have the right to defend yourself with equal force. Not so in schools.
  • July 24, 2011
    TwinBird
    @StrangeDwarf: Sort of. You have the right to defend yourself, with proportionate force. Any more force than is reasonably necessary to escape harm is assault, even if it's technically less force than your assailant was using. If someone attacks you in the adult world, and you fight back for the sake of fighting back, not to aid your escape (which is not necessarily a retreat; killing someone can be an escape in this sense, in extreme circumstances), "he started it" isn't going to sell to the judge.
  • July 24, 2011
    Kersey475
    @Twin Bird: It really depends where you are. Some U.S. states have the "Castle Doctrine" which allows you to use as much force as you want if someone breaks into your home. Other states have a "Duty to Retreat" which is essentially a Real Life example of this trope.
  • July 24, 2011
    TwinBird
    @Kersey475: Still no. Even in your home, even in a castle-doctrine state, you're not allowed to use more force than is necessary to resolve the situation - you can't attack a bound or fleeing intruder, for instance. The only difference it doesn't have to have been unsafe for you to just leave, as would be required (except in Florida) on public property. And even if it were true that you could use unlimited force against a trespasser, that still wouldn't be comparable to "fighting back" against schoolyard bullies. You can't "fight back" if you're not directly trying to prevent imminent violence. Again, imagine being attacked by a tough guy, fighting back, and trying to use this defense in court - if you're lucky, the judge might be laughing too hard to pass sentence.
  • July 25, 2011
    Frank75
    What does "duty to retreat" mean if you're in your own home?

    And I think this is a Family Unfriendly Aesop.
  • July 25, 2011
    StrixObscuro
    Title suggestion: "Self defence is no defence"

    Live Action TV
    • Xena Warrior Princess: Callisto is a mass-murderer, so Xena killed her, so Callisto came back more powerful that you could possibly imagine.
    • Buffy The Vampire Slayer: Nerds are rapists and murderers, so Willow fought against them, so Scoobies fight against Willow.
    • Doctor Who: the Christmas Invasion - Sycorax aliens invade Earth. Brits fight back, so Doctor installs the Master as Prime Minister and the Master destroys the World.
    • Star Trek The Next Generation: Worf releases the son of Durass, who continues being a mass murderer.
  • July 25, 2011
    randomsurfer
    .
  • July 25, 2011
    Generality
    ^ Those examples make no sense. In the one case that I know what you're talking about, you've left out a lot of details, skewing the implications of what really happened. From this I'd guess that you deliberately wrote these in order to asperse the characters mentioned, which is inappropriate for this wiki.

    Anyway.

    • Averted (or possibly predated) in The Andy Griffith Show. Opie admits that he's being picked on by a bully in school, and Andy's advice is to hit him. At the end of the episode he comes back with a black eye and a proud story, and everyone is pleased by this turn of events. Obviously TV values have changed since then.
  • July 25, 2011
    madelinemary
    In the first Christmas episode of Community, "Comparative Religion," Shirley tries to stress the Christ aspect of the Christmas holiday by attempting to forbid Jeff from fighting a group of bullies who picked on Abed. She gives Jeff and the other study group members an ultimatum: anyone who fights the bullies or attends the fight as a spectator will be banned from the Christmas party. Ultimately inverted when Jeff finally gives into Shirley's demands, saying "What Would Shirley Do?" and gets punched several times; Shirley joins the rest of the study group in beating the bullies senseless.
  • July 25, 2011
    CrypticMirror
    That Dr Who one isn't quite what happened. World invaded, world faffs futilely around for a bit, The Doctor engages in a one-to-one battle with head alien with the the prize of the fight being the aliens leaving earth for good. Doctor wins (well, duh), Aliens haul ass out of there, PM of UK who watched the entire deal being made then shoots them in the back as they flee. Doctor sparks off a health scare for UK PM, she stands down, evil sneaky bastard called the The Master who was supposed to be dead seizes the opportunity to grab power two seasons later.

    This one is more shot a fleeing enemy, who had surrendered, in the back and reneged on a deal struck in front of her, and was rightly smacked down. Then two years (and a couple of other alien invasions later) some nasty bloke seized power. The Doctor didn't remove the PM for fighting back, he ousted her for committing a war crime.

  • July 25, 2011
    SunnyV
    This comes up a lot in Japanese works such as anime and manga, partially because of cultural perceptions as to the cause of bullying (i.e. the victim's not fitting in.) See also Family Unfriendly Aesop.
  • July 26, 2011
    Trotzky
    Doctor Who: Doctor fights Sycorax Captain and wins (well duh). Captain surrenders, Doctor turns his back on Captain. Captain tries to back-stab Doctor, Doctor kills Captain with a tangerine. Sycorax Lieutenant agrees to retreat.

    Sycorax code of honour is a plot dependent variable just like Klingon honour, we cannot trust them. Doctor appoints himself the only defender of Earth. Harriet says "You're not always here, Doctor." Doctor wants the trope that oppressed Peasants must sit on their asses and wait for the Heroes to come and rescue them. Harriet presided over Britain's Golden Age. Doctor killed Britain's Golden Age to bring in the Master's holocaust age.

  • July 26, 2011
    Generality
    The Doctor's failure at character judgment aside, your example still isn't valid because A) as written, it implies that the Doctor intended or anticipated the Master's regime, which is not at all the case, and B) this trope is about a show proscribing fighting as an act of defense, where in this case the Doctor's reason for deposing Harriet was based on her having fired on a retreating enemy. Not only does this circumstance not apply, but the show suggests that Harriet's motives had some merit and that the Doctor's reaction was excessive.
  • July 29, 2011
    Bisected8
    @Trotzky;

    • Xena isn't portrayed as being punished for fighting back though. That's just what villains tend to do in that show.
    • The Scoobies turned against Willow because she'd turned evil. Killing the nerds was just her Jumping Off The Slippery Slope
    • The doctor wasn't protrayed as completly right, and the ship was retreating so it's not self defence anyway.
    • Where does defence come into that at all? Worf showed mercy to someone he defeated rather than fighting back.
  • July 29, 2011
    CrypticMirror
    I think we can call this one a bad idea as it is misused even before it gets out of YKTTW. Call for it to be discarded.
  • July 29, 2011
    Sackett
    It needs to be rewritten as an Aseop favoring pacifism without the hostility.
  • July 29, 2011
    TwinBird
    @Frank75: It means you have to leave and let the police handle it if you can. If that sounds ridiculous, that's why only 19 states do it that way.

    (Oh, and it turns out thirteen states - including Florida - have "Stand Your Ground" laws, which is probably what Kelly475 meant, meaning that there's no duty to retreat no matter where you are, but even then, that's only to defer a reasonable threat, not out of spite.)
  • July 29, 2011
    Otaku155
    Finally a trope where this website could be an example lol
  • April 22, 2014
    Noah1
    There's a similar YKTTW here.
  • April 22, 2014
    StrixObscuro
    Film
    • Hancock has a minor subplot where Ray's kid is being bullied (apparently the bully's excuse is that his parents are going through a nasty divorce and he's acting out). Ray wants his kid to turn the other cheek, but Hancock tells him to go for a Groin Attack.
  • April 22, 2014
    Earnest
    See also Actual Pacifist and compare Suicidal Pacifism.
  • April 22, 2014
    sgamer82
    • The My Little Pony Friendship Is Magic episode "One Bad Apple" displays this with Babs Seed, Apple Bloom's visiting cousin. Babs joins in with the local Alpha Bitches when they begin teasing the Cutie Mark Crusaders. The Crusaders come up with a revenge plan to get back at Babs, only to learn the reason for Babs' bullying was that she was being bullied herself back at home and didn't want to be the victim again. This makes the Crusaders realize that they were becoming bullies themselves in response.
      • This episode also plays with the trope at the end. After all of the above and saving Babs from their revenge prank, the Crusaders befriend Babs properly and, when the Alpha Bitches tear into them at the end of the episode, Babs stands up to them and makes them back off by threatening to tell on them. Possibly meant to show that it isn't bad to stand up for yourself, but how you go about it is important.

    Not sure if the second bit counts as subverting (since it's still non-violent) or just playing with the trope.

    Also, the Doctor Who example is ultimately a case of Nice Job Breaking It Hero, as the Doctor's actions do cause the Master to come to power, but not as an intended consequence as it was originally written.
  • April 22, 2014
    paycheckgurl
  • April 22, 2014
    DAN004
    Does it have to be against bullies? Cuz fighting back against villains and against bullies/jerks make different impacts...
  • April 22, 2014
    randomsurfer
  • April 23, 2014
    313Bluestreak
  • November 19, 2014
    313Bluestreak
  • November 19, 2014
    Exxolon
    Depressingly Truthin Television. If a bully attacks a kid and the kid fights back in a school environment, often both of them will end up being punished for "fighting".
  • November 19, 2014
    DAN004
    Well, that's because fighting is bad in itself...
  • November 19, 2014
    DAN004
    Dude says Up For Grabs. Who wanna grab this before I do? (cuz I kinda don't like this trope)
  • November 20, 2014
    PistolsAtDawn
    • Para Norman: the Aesop of the story is that bullying is wrong even if they did it first. The villain is trying to get revenge on the people who killed her, but in the end Norman makes her realize that she has become as bad as they are.

    Da N 004, you can feel free to take over, but im gonna see if i can rewrite the description more neutrally at some point, alright?
  • November 20, 2014
    ropertroper

    • In one episode of Doug, Doug accidentally punches Larry, leading to Doug being challenged to fight him again, which Doug considers. However, his father finds out and isn't encouraging, giving him the saying "Show me a man who'll fight and I'll show you a man who's one out of good ideas". In the end, it turns out Larry doesn't really want to fight (he had pressure from the AV club since it embarrassed them), and Doug felt pressure from the rest of the school to go through with the fight, so they end up pretending to fight behind closed doors, with the other students watching on a deliberately bad monitor, thinking that they are actually fighting.
  • November 20, 2014
    CompletelyDifferent
    • Occasionally, Danny Phantom would use his ghost abilities to get back at his bully with relatively harmless pranks. This pretty much always backfired, and eventually he stopped, having realized that Fightinh Back Is Wrong.
  • November 20, 2014
    PistolsAtDawn
    I fixed the descprition to be less negative
  • November 21, 2014
    CrypticMirror
    I want to nominate this to have No Real Life Examples Please, its going to be a risk from ranting and Troper Tales.
  • November 21, 2014
    StarSword
    Film — Live-Action:
    • Hancock: When Hancock has dinner with Ray and his family, Ray's son Aaron talks about being bullied by a neighborhood kid. Ray's teaching him conflict mediation skills, but Hancock advises a Groin Attack which sends Mary through the roof. Ray later gets very understatedly mad at Hancock for throwing the bully about a mile into the air for calling him an asshole.

    TV:
    • Cleanly averted in the Burn Notice pilot. Based on his experiences with an abusive father and as a soldier and spy, Michael gives his client's bullied son some basic self-defense tips on how to take out the bully ringleader.
      Michael (voiceover): As a spy, it doesn't matter if you're helping rebel forces fight off a dictator or giving combat tips to a third-grader. There's nothing like helping the little guy kick some bully's ass.
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