Made Out To Be A Jerkass
Stand up to a jerk, only for everyone to interpert you as a creep,
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(permanent link) added: 2012-08-06 00:28:17 sponsor: Eddy1215 (last reply: 2012-08-09 08:19:48)

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So, this guy has been a total Jerk Ass to you and you've had enough and snap. You stand up to him, give him the Reason You Suck Speech, and tell him off for everything he's done to you. Should be a Crowning Moment Of Awesome, right? Well, guess what? You were so harsh on the guy that you hurt his feelings. Even worse, your display was witnessed and the only thing that everyone saw was you being mean to him! Congratulations. Everyone thinks you're the Jerk Ass instead of the guy you just told off!

This can be a Family-Unfriendly Aesop where being a jerk back is even worse than what the jerk did to you. Can result from being a Bully Hunter. A villain, especially a Villain with Good Publicity, may use this as part of a Xanatos Gambit to give a hero bad cred. Similar to Why Did You Make Me Hit You? where the guy who hit you acts like the victim, If You Taunt Him, You Will Be Just Like Him, and Avenging the Villain. Related to Arrested for Heroism for being punished for doing the right thing, Crime of Self-Defense for being punished for defending yourself, Playing the Victim Card as in a villain tries to get sympathy by claiming to be a victim and Wounded Gazelle Gambit where one pretends to be hurt by another in order to make him look bad. Compare What the Hell, Hero??. Contrast Engineered Public Confession.

Examples:

Film
  • In Return of the King, Sam can only lash out at Gollum's false accusations. It doesn't help.

Literature
  • In one of the later Twilight books, Leah tells off Bella for the way she's been treating Jacob. Bella then bursts into tears and everybody, including Jacob, gets mad at Leah for upsetting her.

Live-Action TV
  • In one episode of Grounded For Life, upon learning that Eddie had an adult movie shot at their house, Claudia bans him from the house. When the kids find out, they get upset that they'll never see their uncle again. Claudia even lampshades it.
  • In How I Met Your Mother episode "Columns", Ted deals with a worker who keeps belittling his ideas and being a jerk, prompting him to fire him. However, he finds himself unable to do it due to circumstances: his birthday, his wife left him and served him divorce papers, and his dog died. Finally, Ted has enough and decides to fire him at last. However, as he does, the worker has a heart attack. Ted thinks he's faking it and fires him anyway. The worker is carried off in a stretcher and everyone despises Ted, including the paramedics.
  • Two and a Half Men features an episode where Charlie gives his mother a Calling the Old Man Out speech but then she turns it around and treats him like he's being a brat.
  • Wonderfully inverted in an episode of Malcolm in the Middle. In one episode, Lois grounds Malcolm for not helping move a couch even though he was doing some school work. Then when the family is forced to evacuate due to a train wreck releasing a toxic fumes, she says the grounding still stands and makes him stay on a cot. When he finally stands up to her, she humiliates him in front of everyone. This results in her being forced to stay out side with the others for things they did, resulting in the one time Malcolm came out on top.
  • An episode of Friends has Ross move into a new apartment. A resident tries to get him to lend him $200. Ross points out that it's a lot of money for him, since he's just moved, but the guy manages to convince everyone else in the apartment that he's a deadbeat and makes him a pariah. All of Ross's attempts to vindicate himself all make him look worse.

Web Comic
  • Wonderfully summed up in the last panel of this Bug strip.

Western Animation
  • One episode of The Simpsons features Gill staying with the family after losing his job on Christmas. He stays for months and defiles the house to the point where Marge can't take it anymore and decides to stand up to him. By that time, Gill had gotten a new job, so Marge takes the family to his new workplace to tell him off. Unfortunately, when she does, he loses the respect of his workers and his boss fires him. Marge feels so guilty that she and the family buy a vacation house from Gill.
    • In a segment parodying The Count of Monte Cristo, Homer (playing the role of the Count) sets up an elaborate revenge scheme for the man (Moe) who stole his love (Marge) and had him sent to prison, which ends with Moe being killed. Unfortunately, Marge gets upset with him for killing her husband.
  • In a most egregious example, in all places, a Sponge Bob Square Pants episode entitled "Stuck In A Wringer". SpongeBob has an accident that gets him stuck in a wringer, and thanks to Patrick's stupidity, he can't get out. SpongeBob feels he'll never be able to do anything now, but Patrick gives him a Rousing Speech that he can go on. Unfortunately, Patrick's speech is proven unfounded as the wringer causes SpongeBob a ton of bad luck no matter how much Patrick tries to inspire him. Finally, in the middle of an amusement park, SpongeBob snaps at Patrick, telling him his life is over and that it's all his fault. Patrick runs off crying while everyone who was watching call SpongeBob a jerk and say he got what he deserved.
    • In another episode, Flats the Flounder menaces poor SpongeBob, threatening to "kick your butt". When he actually does, however, SpongeBob's soft body just absorbs the blows, and Flats keeps punching away until he falls from exhaustion. SpongeBob then gives his fellow students a speech against violence, raising his fist for emphasis. That's when Mrs. Puff comes in, sees Flats on the floor and SpongeBob with his fist up, and accuses him of beating up Flats, then tells him "I'm gonna kick your butt!"
  • Another infamous example is from Futurama episode 'Benderama'. An ugly giant appeared in the first act and got upset when Fry accidentally insulted his mother. In the third act, he came to Earth to apologize for his behavior, but unfortunately, everyone's so intoxicated (due to all the fresh water on Earth being turned in alcohol) that they inadvertently pick him on and call him a monster, causing him to go crazy and start attacking the town, ending with him being killed by Bender's copies.
  • An episode of The Grim Adventures of Billy & Mandy features Billy being tormented by a bully. In a rare Crowning Moment of Heartwarming (for her), Mandy stands up to bully, only for Billy to get on her for picking on him.
  • In effect in Danny Phantom episode "Splitting Images". Tired of resident Jerk Jock Dash picking on him, Danny decides to use his powers to get some payback. Unfortunately, he catches the attention of Bully Hunter Sidney Poindexter who thinks that Dash was an innocent kid (somehow missing when Dash picked on Danny), so he takes over Danny's body and sends him to his realm where Danny gets picked on by Poindexter's bullies. While the message in the episode is Comes Great Responsibility, it's laced with this trope as well.
  • The ending of Ed, Edd n Eddy's Big Picture Show has a inversion of this. At the beginning of the movie, the Ed's latest scam caused massive damage and severely hurt the children, resulting in them being hunted down. After the encounter with Eddy's brother, everyone got over it, except Johnny who didn't arrive until afterwards. Therefore, when he attacked the Eds, the children beated him up.
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