Created By: Psi001 on October 29, 2011 Last Edited By: Psi001 on September 27, 2015

Hero Gloating

A smug hero always falls.

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Trope
Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall.
Proverbs 16.18

Cockiness and confidence are common traits in a protagonist and to some extent, make for a somewhat amusing and even endearing quirk. There is a common rule however, that the moment they reach an insufferable level of smugness and arrogance in their bouts of heroism, that huge streak of villain slaying is about to end.

At one point the hero has seemingly everything won, the villain is defeated, the world is saved and all is well, but they aren't going to be humble about it. The hero may invoke an Ironic Echo by using the villain's own taunt against them, essentially throwing it back in their faces now that the tables have turned. In some cases they may even unheroically toy with the villain or Kick Them While They Are Down. Alternatively cue an enormous self aggrandising speech about how easy their victory was or how much that villain sucks and is surely gone for good.

Whether their profound boasting leaves an opening for the supposed Harmless Villain to make a genuine offensive move or it's just a case of Tempting Fate, their Laser-Guided Karma ends the moment the hero tries to rub in just how good they are. Things will then suddenly go horribly wrong.

Often leads to a Break the Haughty or Nice Job Breaking It, Hero moments, as well as usually provoking a minor case of The Bad Guy Wins or Team Rocket Wins.

The heroic counterpart for Evil Gloating. See also Unsportsmanlike Gloating, which often overlaps with this trope.


Examples

Anime and Manga
  • Bleach
    • Soi Fon falls victim to this so many times you'd swear Kubo had something against her:
      • During her fight with her mentor, Yoruichi Shihouin, she stops to brag about her secret weapon: Shunkou. She claimed it was recently perfected and said Yoruichi was to be the first victim of it... until Yoruichi stole her thunder by revealing she could do it too, and was much better at it. Whoops.
      • It happens to her again, during her fight with Ggio Vega. She pins him to a wall, using kido, and releases her zanpakuto. You'd think she'd use the opportunity to finish him off, right? Nope. Not without pausing to tell him what was coming first. Guess what happens?
      • Finishing up our Humiliation Conga, after being trounced by Barragan, she tells Aizen, of all people, she's going to finish him once and for all... only to have her sure-shot fail when it was needed most, then gets lectured on why it didn't work, before being cut down. Damn.
    • Ichigo Kurosaki, due to some hidden Blood Knight tendencies, often can be quite cocky when facing opponents. In his battle with Kenpachi, he expresses relief that his zanpakuto can't go into a higher level...and is easily trashed. Against Byakuya, he constantly provokes him, which ends up biting him in the ass.
  • Happens a lot in Pokémon. Many of Ash's losses were a result of his ego and confidence getting the better of him.
  • Done to an enormous rate with Tyson in Beyblade in a similar manner. The guy can't stop talking about how awesome he is, and it always leads to him getting cut down to size.
  • Subverted in Dragon Ball Z: Gogeta completely humiliates Evil Boo before killing it.

Literature
  • In Deryni Rising, Morgan defeats Charissa's champion in single combat, turns and walks over to her, levels his sword at her throat, and taunts, "Who now is the ruler of Gwynedd?" Unfortunately for him, his opponent isn't dead and Charissa has an enchantment on the the badge of office he's wearing. Ian Howell throws a dagger at Morgan and Charissa casts a quick spell to choke Morgan with the badge's chain, putting him off-balance and leaving him with the dagger in his shoulder.

Live-Action TV

Video Games
  • In the first Paper Mario, Peach boasts to a rampaging Bowser that Mario has always whooped his ass and that he may as well just give up now. Cue a Hopeless Boss Fight where Bowser uses the Star Rod to curbstomp Mario, marking the first time Bowser has canonically beaten Mario.
  • Sonic the Hedgehog
  • In the final battle of Crash: Mind Over Mutant, Cortex insists he's going to take out Crash one on one with his bare hands. This is met with an outburst of laughter and mocking from Crash and Aku Aku, before he unveils a hidden stash of N.Brio's mutagen formula to even the odds. Cue Oh Crap! reaction as he hulks into a giant muscular beast.
  • In the first Spyro the Dragon game, Gnasty Gnorc's crystal encasing of the dragons was provoked from watching a news coverage where one of the elders claimed Gnasty to be simple and of no threat (and, just to be petty, ugly too).

Western Animation
Community Feedback Replies: 36
  • October 30, 2011
    PacificState
    like this trope. I think it's very very common though.

    Subvert in Dragonball Z: Gogeta completely humiliates Evil Boo before killing it.
  • October 30, 2011
    Psi001
    I depends on the intensity. There are lots of cocky heroes though whether they act enough to enitiate this trope (or whether it happens at all) varies. It tends to be something of a common Authors Saving Throw to prevent the heroes looking like bullies to Harmless Villains (eg. the moment they start to treat beating down a baddie like a game, it calls for a Not So Harmless moment to wake them up, at which point they show a more serious and humble attitude to beating the villain).

    • Played straight often in The Dreamstone, whenever a hero implies Zordrak and the Urpneys were finally vanquished, or started taking their schemes a bit too lightly, it was usually a call for them to appear with one of their more fearsome schemes or succeed in nabbing the stone. Subverted in "Blob's Incredible Plan" however, where the heroes anticipate and laugh off the Urpney's new plan, and genuinely do offer them what is arguably their most humiliating defeat in the show's run.
  • October 30, 2011
    azul120
    Happens a lot in Pokemon.
  • October 30, 2011
    JonnyB
    Perhaps have Proverbs 16:18 as a page quote, since this trope is Older Than Dirt...
  • October 30, 2011
    Psi001
    • Done to an enormous rate with Tyson in Beyblade.
  • October 30, 2011
    MiinU

    Manga and Anime

    • In Bleach, Soi Fon falls victim to this so many times you'd swear Kubo had something against her:
      • During her fight with her mentor, Yoruichi Shihouin, she stops to brag about her secret weapon: Shunkou. She claimed it was recently perfected and said Yoruichi was to be the first victim of it... until Yoruichi stole her thunder by revealing she could do it too, and was much better at it. Whoops.
      • It happens to her again, during her fight with Ggio Vega. She pins him to a wall, using kido, and realses her zanpakuto. You'd think she'd use the opportunity to finish him off, right? Nope. Not without pausing to tell him what was coming first. Guess what happens?
      • Finishing up our Humiliation Conga, after being trounced by Barragan, she tells Aizen, of all people, she's going to finish him once and for all... only to have her sure-shot fail when it was needed most, then gets lectured on why it didn't work, before being cut down. Damn.
  • October 31, 2011
    Psi001
  • November 1, 2011
    69BookWorM69
    Literature:
    • In Deryni Rising, Morgan defeats Charissa's champion in single combat, turns and walks over to her, levels his sword at her throat, and taunts, "Who now is the ruler of Gwynedd?" Unfortunately for him, his opponent isn't dead and Charissa has an enchantment on the the badge of office he's wearing. Ian Howell throws a dagger at Morgan and Charissa casts a quick spell to choke Morgan with the badge's chain, putting him off-balance and leaving him with the dagger in his shoulder.
  • November 19, 2011
    Tambov333
    Bump.
  • November 19, 2011
    69BookWorM69
    @ Psi001 I think it's helpful if the cockiness prompts the hero to make a mistake, drop his guard, or some such. See my example above.
  • November 22, 2011
    Psi001
    True this is a frequent example, however there do seem to be times it is provoked merely by Laser Guided Karma, eg. the setup just seems to think the hero is getting too unsympathetically cocky about things so steps it up a notch so he realises he's no longer in his comfort zone and he becomes a bit more dire and pitiful.

    I guess it's utilized since in fiction there's such a fine line between nobly outdoing a Big Bad and acting like smug bully to a sympathetic villain in many viewers' eyes.
  • November 22, 2011
    69BookWorM69
    ^ You may have something there. Cockiness can easily elide into smugness (even to insufferable levels before you know where you are). Best to keep the hero heroic, and gloating isn't heroic.
  • November 23, 2011
    Psi001
    • In the first Paper Mario, Peach boasts to a rampaging Bowser that Mario has always whooped his ass and that he may as well just give up now. Cue a Hopeless Boss Fight where Bowser uses the Star Rod to curbstomp Mario, marking the first time Bowser has canonically beaten Mario.
  • November 25, 2011
    blueflame724
    Bleach: Ichigo, due to some hidden blood knight tendencies, often can be quite cocky when facing opponents. In his battle with Kenpachi, he expresses relief that his zanpakuto can't go into a higher level...and is easily trashed. Against Byakuya, he constantly provokes him, which ends up biting him in the ass.
  • December 16, 2011
    MiinU
    The OP should mention that the hero may be invoking Ironic Echo by using the villain's own taunt against them, essentially throwing it back in their faces now that the tables have turned.
  • January 11, 2012
    69BookWorM69
    Bump.
  • January 18, 2012
    TheHandle
    What about Gurren Lagann, Sailor Moon (same scriptwriter!) and other shows where the hero always uses an In The Name Of The Moon Speech to show they have the moral high ground before beating the crap out of their opponents? Does that count as gloating?
  • January 18, 2012
    MiinU
    The Pokemon and Beyblade examples are Zero Context Examples.
  • January 18, 2012
    DracMonster
    I think we have two different tropes here.

    Badass Gloating might be a better companion to Evil Gloating, gloating tends to be anti-heroic at best, but we forgive it in someone sufficiently Crazy Awesome.

    Pride Gloateth Before A Fall for how anyone (hero or villain) tends to become a Laser Guided Karma magnet for gloating.

    • In God Of War 2, after Kratos deals the killing stroke to the divinely animated Colossus of Rhodes, he leaps out to the ground and loudly boasts about being greater than the other gods... failing to notice the colossus about to fall on him.

    69bookworm69, I think you should propose a second YKTTW and split this.

    EDIT: Badass Boast may cover Badass Gloating, not sure.
  • January 18, 2012
    Psi001
    ^ That's kind of the point, since gloating isn't a particularly heroic action it tends to be used whenever things are gonna come down on the hero and usually Break The Haughty. May also be used by a Hero Antagonist which will sometimes use such Poke The Poodle methods to get the audience to sympathise with the Villain Protagonist.

    As such Hero Gloating stands out as a special mechanic occasionally used in media, though Pride Gloateth Before A Fall may work as super trope.

    ^^ Both cases are pretty much the same, Ash and Tyson are Ted Baxter protagonists who stop taking their next opponents seriously, only to find out they are Not So Harmless or their cockiness has led them to screw up or leave an opening for the opponent to win. My memories not great but I think some of Team Rocket's Not So Harmless moments were also triggered after the heroes shrugged them off, can anyone confirm this at any point?
  • January 18, 2012
    DarkSasami
  • January 18, 2012
    69BookWorM69
    @ DracMonster and Psi001 I'm liking the supertrope idea, and I love the title Pride Gloateth Before A Fall. I have to go to work now, but let me think about this a bit more.
  • January 19, 2012
    DracMonster
    I think it could work as this title and just expand it to both heroes and villains.
  • January 20, 2012
    LouieW
    @/Psi001, thanks for making this YKTTW, I think it was probably needed.

    I like the supertrope idea too since I feel like the different kinds of gloating seem to suggest different ideas. I wonder if Heroic Gloating would be a better title for this particular trope, but I am not really sure about that.

    See also Unsportsmanlike Gloating which often overlaps with this trope.
  • November 13, 2014
    HeroGal2347
    Bump.
  • November 13, 2014
    DAN004
    So should we split this into Badass Gloating and Gloating Never Goes Unpunished?
  • November 13, 2014
    SvartiKotturinn
    Asuka from Neon Genesis Evangelion has the highest synchro rate among the pilots and holds herself in fairly high esteem over her piloting abilities and often brags about the amazing Eva she gets to pilot, to the point it gets to her head and she becomes a borderline case of The Bully to Shinji (if not crossing that line). After a while she undergoes a horrible case of Break The Haughty, starting with Shinji outdoing her in a synchro test, and goes through a painful and traumatic Trauma Conga Line.
  • November 13, 2014
    DAN004
    Contrast Awesome Ego.
  • March 21, 2015
    DAN004
  • September 12, 2015
    pvsage
    Seen It A Million Times. There's a Stock American Phrase that was, until recently, a trope that has nothing to do with the expression other than containing the word "apple"; I've always considered "How do you like them apples?" synonymous with the trope described here. (First use of the phrase in film was In Rio Bravo after Brennan's character throws a stick of dynamite and his partner shoots it in the air. Since this was a John Wayne flick, the expression quickly entered the public consciousness via Pop Culture Osmosis. Almost never has anything to do with apples, unless you're on an orchard or in a Food Fight; if some food other than apples is involved, it might be "How do you like them [food]s?" What was I going on about?)

    Anyway, yeah, this is a trope. From the above, you can guess my preference for a Trope Name, but I'd be fine with Hero Gloating too. Hatted. I'd also hat Gloating Never Goes Unpunished as a separate trope.
  • September 12, 2015
    WalterSmith
    Oberyn Martell from Game Of Thrones wounds the Mountain hard enough in a trial by duel to knock him on the ground. Instead of finishing him off, the Red Viper keeps gloating about his quest for revenge and telling Gregor how he murdered his sister and nephews. Cues Gregor grabbing Oberyn, smashing his face and performing a brutal Facepalm Of Doom.
  • September 12, 2015
    MiinU
    The Beyblade and DBZ examples in the OP both need context.
  • September 13, 2015
    Arivne
  • September 13, 2015
    Arivne
  • September 24, 2015
    DAN004
    I think a hero gloating in general is Badass Boast, so yeah the name should change. Either Hero Gloats Before A Fall or Gloating Hero Always Falls.
  • September 27, 2015
    Psi001
    Gloating tends to be looked upon more negatively than boasting. Boasting tends to be just spouting your skill. Gloating tends to refer to dicking with your defeated opponent. Hero Gloating a good juxtaposition.

    I may be tempted to use a variation though. Heroes Shouldnt Gloat maybe refers to the full plot context better.
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