->''"Of course you realize, dis means war!"''
-->-- '''WesternAnimation/BugsBunny''''s catchphrase

Not all [[DesignatedVillain antagonists]] are fire-breathing {{Card Carrying Villain}}s, a good many are PluckyComicRelief {{Harmless Villain}}s, or just plain incidental annoyances, and these guys just can't be done away with using the same response as the former. It just wouldn't jibe to have a hero [[DisproportionateRetribution beat said antagonist to within an inch of his life for putting itching powder in his cowl]], at least not without the hero being an [[AntiHero Anti]].

These antagonists have a certain degree of Karmic Protection, even though this character outright annoys others they are protected from harm because they genuinely mean well or at least aren't actually harming anyone. These guys and gals have to be dealt with creatively, and some can even be convinced to tone it down. However, if they ''do'' turn bad and KickTheDog, the protection is lost. Underlying all this is the idea that the typical KarmicTrickster shenanigans can only be justified if provoked to avoid appalling the audience.

In that sense, the Karmic Protection extends both ways: it protects the annoyance from real harm, and the hero from karmic backlash as he's perfectly justified in his response. Sometimes though, the attempts at Karmic Protection don't work for some of the audience and just end up with the protagonist looking like a {{Jerkass}} and rooting for the supposed antagonist to get one over on this pompous ass who deserved it anyway.

This is usually why a hero who's a SlaveToPR won't be the one to initiate hostilities against an AffablyEvil villain.

See also LaserGuidedKarma and KarmicTrickster. Compare KarmaHoudiniWarranty.


[[folder: Anime ]]
* Haru from ''Manga/KatekyoHitmanReborn'' is a [[TheDitz ditz]] and a little overprotective of children who can take care of themselves, but she means well and ends up a member of the family.

[[folder: Comics ]]
* [[Franchise/{{Batman}} Batmite]] and [[Franchise/{{Superman}} Mxyzptlk]] usually just end up being sent back to their home dimensions in the end, since they are well-intentioned playful tricksters and not outright evil.
* The Micro-Puffs were specially created for ''ComicBook/ThePowerpuffGirls'' comic book (never appearing on the TV series). They were essentially distaff Mxyzptlks for the girls.

[[folder: Film ]]
* ''The Creator/MarxBrothers'', no matter what characters they were playing. If someone was mean to Harpo, you knew he was going to spend the next 80 minutes of screentime being their ButtMonkey. They are possibly a source for the WesternAnimation/BugsBunny character.

[[folder: Live Action Television ]]
* In the various ''Franchise/StarTrek'' series, the Romulans invoke this Trope in their foreign relations. They often don't try to outright start wars, but instead to provoke or more often trick the Federation into doing so. This lets them cling to the moral high ground as they battle. Naturally, the various Trek captains like Kirk and Picard know they're full of crap.

[[folder: Western Animation ]]
* Omnipresent and occasionally played with in ''WesternAnimation/{{Animaniacs}}'':
** One episode had a nanny parodying ''Theatre/TheSoundOfMusic'', who greatly annoys the Warner Brothers with her happy demeanor and niceness. The show then breaks the FourthWall by showing a kid asking his dad why they don't simply take care of her like they do most of their enemies. The dad answers that she hasn't actually done anything bad to them and genuinely means well. Eventually, the Warners called in a cameo appearance from [[ScrewySquirrel Slappy Squirrel]] to deal with her.
** When they occasionally do pester someone who wasn't mean to them first, the character is previously established as a JerkAss (mocking his staff, withholding food, kicking nuns).
* ''WesternAnimation/BugsBunny'' was ''not'' like that originally, he was more of a ScrewySquirrel, but was [[CharacterizationMarchesOn turned]] into this later on.
** Director Friz Freleng created Yosemite Sam to directly upkeep the trope, and utilize a clearly belligerent villain Bugs could freely torment compared to Elmer Fudd, who Freleng feared was pitiful enough to make Bugs look like an unheroic bully.
* Similarly Dick Lundy invented Buzz Buzzard as a more callous foe for ''WesternAnimation/WoodyWoodpecker'', evolving the latter away from his [[KarmaHoudini unpunished]] ScrewySquirrel persona he had against non-provocative victims like Wally Walrus.
* Similarly Jerry of ''WesternAnimation/TomAndJerry'' fell victim to this more and more in later Creator/HannaBarbera shorts. In shorts he was defensive and being antagonised by Tom, he usually won. The odd time he started a feud or went overboard in his retaliation, Tom was allowed to have the last laugh.
* There are elements of this in an episode of ''WesternAnimation/{{Kim Possible}}'' where Yori and the Sensei convince Ron to go back and help Monkeyfist because even though he's a bad guy, he hasn't meant them any harm this time round.
* Averted in early episodes of ''WesternAnimation/TheDreamstone'', where the heroes always got a free pass for brutally beating or leaving for dead [[PokeThePoodle mundane]] [[MinionWithAnFInEvil Minions With An F In Evil]], the Urpneys. Later seasons started to inflict the trope, the Urpneys were retooled from pitiful slaves to more NotSoHarmless lazy employees, with the heroes rarely taking their retaliations outside the bare means of defensive (one episode their over zeal returned [[ATasteOfDefeat ended on a rather sour note]]). In a lot of the Urpneys particularly ineffectual schemes, the heroes were retooled into {{The Fool}}s oblivious to their foes undoing their own schemes for them.
* Generally ''WesternAnimation/SpongeBobSquarePants'' can [[IdiotHoudini get away with creating all sorts of havoc]] (ranging from mild irritation to destroying lives) so long as it's in his well intentioned giddiness. On rare occasions Spongebob deliberately acts like an arrogant or mean spirited {{Jerkass}} however, he ends up the ButtMonkey instead.