"A" is in such a nasty mood that he/she decides to go visit a world of hurt on the physically smaller or meeker or more socially vulnerable Butt Monkey "B". Butt Monkey "B", in turn, isn't about to take this injustice lying down, but there's no point in trying to strike back at the superior "alpha" figure. So Butt Monkey "B" seeks out the even smaller, even weaker, or even more vulnerable Butt Monkey "C" and gives him/her a hard time. Butt Monkey "C" then makes life hell for Butt Monkey "D", etc.
This is basically Always a Bigger Fish
, but depicted in reverse. If the cat and the mouse team up against the dog, that's We ARE Struggling Together
. Related to Animal Jingoism
- Invoked in Maus. The Germans were drawn as cats and the Jews as mice as a metaphor for the predatory stance the Nazis had against the Jews. Americans were drawn as dogs since they were seen as having chased away the Nazi cats.
Jill surreptitiously tossed them peanuts despite "No Feeding" signs. She tossed one to a medium sized monk; before he could eat it a much larger male was on him and not only stole his peanut but gave him a beating, then left. The little fellow made no attempt to pursue his tormentor; be squatted at the scene of the crime, pounded his knucks against the concrete floor, and chattered his helpless rage. Mike watched it solemnly. Suddenly the mistreated monkey rushed to the side of the cage, picked a monkey still smaller, bowled it over and gave it a drubbing worse than the one he had suffered-after which he seemed quite relaxed.
- In an episode of the third series of Blackadder, Edmund explains to Baldrick how Prince George having a go at him (Edmund) sets up a chain where he kicks the cat, the cat attacks a mouse and the mouse then bites Baldrick, at the bottom of the heap.
- On Deadwood, the camp's resident Butt Monkey is E.B. Farnum, the hotel operator and later town mayor. In turn, the hotel's cook is the dim-witted Richardson, who serves as E.B.'s butt monkey when he's pushed a little too far.
- On How I Met Your Mother this is described as the "chain of screaming".
- The sound effects at the end of Good Morning, Good Morning are this; every effect is of a creature (or pack of creatures) who could scare off or eat the previous one.
- Tom and Jerry would be the Trope Codifier.
- Exaggerated on the Looney Tunes short "Fair and Worm-er". A worm is chased by a bird, who is chased by a cat, who is chased by a dog, who is chased by a dog catcher, who in turn is chased by his wife, who is chased away by a skunk.
- This is the basis of the chain of domestic abuse: Father abuses son, who is powerless to fight back, so when the son becomes a father he abuses his own son, etc.