->''"You could say I'm trying to wake the clods out of their rigid mental sets by forcing them to deal with unconventional behavior... or you could say I just like jerking folks around. For that matter, you could say anything you damned well want to. I do."''\\
--'''Admiral Chee''', ''[[Literature/TheLeagueOfPeoplesVerse Expendable]]''

The gadfly is a character who often says things they don't necessarily believe in order to get a reaction. [[NoSocialSkills Maybe they have a hard time really expressing themselves.]] [[ItAmusedMe Or it could be they just like to watch others get flustered, confused or angry.]]

Usually they're not really bad people. They can be quite amusing as long as they're not going after ''you.'' Which they probably won't, because the target is usually limited to characters the gadfly knows well or react strongly.

Compare TheTease for overtly sexual examples. Compare and contrast with {{Troll}}, who does this out of malice instead of amusement.

See also IShallTauntYou, ArmorPiercingQuestion, GayBravado, DevilsAdvocate.

Contrast the BlitheSpirit and ManicPixieDreamGirl, who often use a very similar M.O. to ''improve'' people's lives. The DevilsAdvocate will do this in serious discussion to point out flaws in a stated position.
----
!!Examples:

[[foldercontrol]]

[[folder:Anime]]
* Albireo Imma in ''MahouSenseiNegima'', who seems to feel it is his job to get a rise out of Evangeline. He's described as her 'natural enemy'.
** Zazie Rainyday appears to be following in his footsteps.
* Half the time when Koizumi and Kyon from ''SuzumiyaHaruhi'' talk, Koizumi will explain some theory to explain Haruhi and Kyon will start getting very involved in the conversation and thinking about it deeply--at which point he says "Just kidding, I made the whole thing up." Annoying!
** A bad case of this comes from none other than [[spoiler: Ryoko Asakura, who decides it's her job to make Haruhi do something and tries to murder Kyon.]] Actions speak louder than words?
* Asuka Langley Soryuu, the {{Jerkass}} {{Tsundere}} from ''Anime/NeonGenesisEvangelion'' does this due to her huge insecurities, so in her case it's basically a big cry for attention.
* Hikaru and Kaoru Hitachiin in ''OuranHighschoolHostClub'' generally amuse themselves by baiting Tamaki and Haruhi. Tamaki is a bit of a {{butt monkey}}, but Haruhi can hold her own. Often unintentionally.
** The scary thing is that ''it runs in the family.''
* Nabiki often acts like this towards Akane and Ranma in ''Manga/RanmaOneHalf''.
* By episode 12 of ''LightNovel/{{Bakemonogatari}}'', Senjogahara admits she likes to troll Koyomi.
* Konata in ''LuckyStar'' constantly pushes Kagami's buttons and giggles quietly at the [[{{Tsundere}} explosive]] results.
* Similarly, Ritsu from ''[[Manga/KOn K-On!]]'' loves pushing Mio's buttons, mainly to scare the crap out of her.
** When Mugi tried to simulate her [[spoiler:to get more popular]], she came off as JerkAss.
* Before either of these, Tomo from ''Manga/AzumangaDaioh'' was doing this to [[StraightMan Yomi]].
* Shin of ''ShinChan'' loves getting a rise out of Georgie.
* [[JerkWithAHeartOfGold Kazuma]] of ''LightNovel/KazeNoStigma'' is a DeadpanSnarker with a hobby: {{Troll}}ing his distant cousin [[{{Tsundere}} Ayano]].
* In practice, Kafuka Fuura of ''SayonaraZetsubouSensei'' comes across like this, as while she professes extreme optimism on every subject, she tends to create or encourage chaos by doing so, and we know that she's really CuteAndPsycho.
* Tsuyuri from ''Manga/DoujinWork'' is this through and through, causing most of the misunderstandings in the series.
* Raphael from ''TenshiNiNarumon'' is a mix of this and TheTease towards Mikael
* Prince Baka Ki=El-Dogra, also known as the Prince, in ''{{Level E}}'' is pretty much made out of this.
* In ''Manga/MaidSama'', [[TheAce Takumi]] [[MrFanservice Usui]] does this a lot to basically everyone, but his favorite victim is his {{Tsundere}} love interest [[DoesNotLikeMen Misaki]] [[BelligerentSexualTension Ayuzawa]].
* Mai from ''{{Manga/Nichijou}}'' goes to great lengths in order to confuse her friends, going so far as to seemingly [[SchoolgirlLesbians confess to Yukko]] just to provoke a funny response. She'll even troll herself. Also, [[UncattyResemblance her dogs]] are the same way.
** And one of said friends has an older sister, who is just as bad.
* Motoharu Tsuchimikado and Misaka [[spoiler:Worst]] from ''ToaruMajutsuNoIndex''. The former is a SelfProclaimedLiar, the latter does her best trying to troll Accelerator.
* Haru Hozuki from ''Manga/HozukiSanChiNoAneki'' has nothing better to do than mess with her step-brother.
* Korone (Green) in DemonKingDaimao loves yanking Akuto's chain.
* ''CodeGeass'': C.C. seems to come off as this trope, with [[DeadpanSnarker snarking]] and [[PrettyFreeloaders freeloading ]] the person she does it to as a bonus when pushing Lelouch's buttons.
* Shirokuma of ''Manga/ShirokumaCafe'' enjoys making things up and messing with his friends because he thinks their lives are too dull.
* Manabe from ''Manga/{{Kotoura-san}}'' is a mixture of this and TheTease. He likes having sexual fantasies of his girlfriend and local {{telepath|y}} Haruka so that she flusters, and it's that that turns ''him'' on.
* Monkey D. Luffy from ''Manga/OnePiece'' does this to the villains, often pointing out their physical features ('''BIG RED NOSE!!!'''), seemingly just to make them mad.
* L from ''Manga/DeathNote'' does this to gauge reactions from other people, helping him read them more easily.
* Yutaka's sister Kaoru from ''Manga/ServantXService'' mentioned she likes to play tricks on people when she introduced herself. She's right; the first she appears, she actually staged an UnsettlingGenderReveal in front of Lucy, making the latter to believe Yutaka is indeed a female for a few seconds!
* Kaede Ikeno from ''Manga/SakuraTrick'' fits the bill, often playing pranks on the other girls because they seem like good ideas at the time.
* Sougo Okita from ''Manga/{{Gintama}}'' pretty much lives to annoy others. The most common target of his is Hijikata, and the pranks he directs at him frequently are more like attempted murder.
* ''LightNovel/KagerouDays'': Kano. It really doesn't help that he's a ShapeShifter. Most of his lines are meant to fluster ''someone'' in some way, whether it is to break Kido's cool exterior, reading Mary's poetry aloud for everyone, or making comments suggesting he's attracted to Momo [[MySisterIsOffLimits in front of Shintaro]]. [[spoiler:Once his status as TheResenter is revealed, it's clear he's more of a {{Troll}} instead]].
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Comics]]
* {{Spider-Man}}, One of the founding fathers of the [[TropeCodifier trope itself]]. Especially to the hero community and his various villians.
** {{Deadpool}} does this as constant part of his character but unlike Spiderman, [[NoFourthWall knows he's in a comic book]] and is always treating the world around him as a writers intent instead of being actually crazy.....which he is.
* Amy's "crush" in SonicTheComic is implied to just be her teasing Sonic because she likes to see him flustered, in contrast to all other continuities where she's a [[SmittenTeenageGirl Smitten Preteen Girl]].
* [[CalvinAndHobbes Hobbes]] ''loves'' to rile up Calvin, using everything from {{Stealth Insult}}s to [[ThePrankster various pranks]] to spoiling the endings of Calvin's favorite comic books.
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Fanfiction]]
* In ''[[https://www.fanfiction.net/s/8705103/11/Nymphadora-Tonks-Back-to-Hogwarts Nymphadora Tonks Back to Hogwarts]]'' a teenage Bellatrix Lestrange was described as one of these, playing mind games and saying things just to get a rise out of people.
* Navarone from ''FanFic/DiariesOfAMadman'' often says or does things for the sole purpose of getting a rise out of others, which he readily admits to.
* ''FanFic/TheInfiniteLoops'' are basically a justification for turning canon characters into a swarm of gadflies.
* ''Fanfic/MegamiNoHanabira'': Mai gets a real kick out of teasing her girlfriend Reo. usually by saying pervy things and making her flustered.
--> Mai: You know, we could always...
--> Reo: NO.
--> Mai: I was gonna say we could always, you know, ''talk'' or something. Jeez, Reo, even I'm not up to doing "that" in ''public''.
--> Reo: Oh...
--> Mai: Of course, we could find an alleyway or something...have our demons stand guard...
--> Reo: NO! MAI, YOU DUMMY! PERVERT!

[[/folder]]

[[folder:Film]]
* Loki in ''Film/{{Dogma}}'', who convinces a nun that there is no God by spouting off [[EveryoneIsJesusInPurgatory nonsensical allegories]] about ''Literature/AliceInWonderland'' and organized religion. By the way, he's the Angel of Death.
-->'''Bartleby''': You know, here's what I don't get about you. You know for a ''fact'' that there is a God. You've been in His presence. He's spoken to you personally. Yet I just heard you claim to be an atheist.
-->'''Loki''': I just like to fuck with the clergy, man. I just love it, I love to keep those guys on their toes.
* Stumpy from ''OutCold''.
-->'''Stumpy''': Did I ever tell you about the time I invented snowboarding?
* Done by, ''of all people, [[NiceGuy Bruce]] [[TheIncredibleHulk Banner]]'' in ''Film/TheAvengers''. He starts acting angry when BlackWidow is talking to him, causing her to freak out and pull a gun on him. She calls off [[JustYouAndMeAndMyGuards all of the SHIELD agents surrounding the building they're in]] after he says the following:
-->'''Bruce''': I'm sorry, that was mean. I just wanted to see what you'd do.
* Disney's StoryOfRobinHoodAndHisMerrieMen Robin is this:
** He describes his lady love as a blonde, blue eyed, sweetly tempered lady to the impetuous brunette Marian just to rile her up.
** He joins the Friar in a duet just to annoy him, and makes him carry Robin across the river just for the fun of it.
** He plays an affable host to the Sheriff so he can mock him.
** He and Little John carry the Sheriff on their shoulders to celebrate his "generosity" in contributing to Richard's ransom, then dump him in the moat immediately after revealing their identities.
** And at the very end, after being declared Earl of Locksley, he leaves Marian in the dark so that she is heartbroken by her PerfectlyArrangedMarriage to... the Earl of Locksley.
* In ''Film/AHardDaysNight'', George Harrison admits he and the other Beatles are this in regards to a fashion model.
-->'''Simon Marshall:''' If you don't cooperate, you won't get to meet Susan.\\
'''George:''' And who's this Susan when she's at home?\\
'''Simon:''' Only Susan Canby, our resident teenager.\\
'''George:''' Oh! You mean that posh bird who gets everything wrong?\\
'''Simon:''' Excuse me?\\
'''George:''' Oh, yeah. The lads frequently sit around the telly and watch her for a giggle. One time, we actually sat down and wrote these letters saying how gear she was and all that rubbish.\\
'''Simon:''' She's a trendsetter. It's her profession.\\
'''George:''' She's a drag. A well known drag. We turn the sound down on her and say rude things.\\
'''Simon:''' [horrified] Get him out of here! He's knocking the program's image!\\
'''George:''' Have I said something amiss?\\
'''Simon:''' Get him out!
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Literature]]
* Discussed in Creator/{{Plato}}'s ''Literature/ApologyOfSocrates,'' where Creator/{{Socrates}} compares his role for the Athenian democracy as that of a gadfly pestering a horse (for details, see the [[foldercontrol]]

[[folder: Real Life ]]
folder below).
* In Creator/RobertAHeinlein's ''Rocket Ship Galileo'', Dr. Cargraves does this when debating with his three teenage apprentices, to get them to question their own assumptions and realize the importance of being able to prove their assertions. His contrary position is that the Moon might not have a "far side", because no one has ever seen it (the book was written before spacecraft were sent to photograph the far side).
* Admiral Chee of ''[[Literature/TheLeagueOfPeoplesVerse Expendable]]'' sees himself as a social gadfly in the tradition of Socrates, contantly prodding people to deal with issues they'd rather ignore. Like Socrates, he ends up sentenced to execution because of it.
* Byerly Vorrutyer in the ''Literature/VorkosiganSaga'' is seen by most people as a gadfly who never saw a foul rumor or vicious innuendo he didn't want to spread. Of course, there's actually a bit more to him than that, and there's a method to his madness, but most see him as an particularly annoying "town clown."
* [[GenkiBoy Jeko]] from the ''{{ColSec Trilogy}}''. His usual target is his {{implied|LoveInterest}} [[ShipTease crush]] [[{{Tsundere}} Heleth]], but he heckles [[TheHero Cord]] a few times as well.
* [[TheWomanWearingTheQueenlyMask When she can get away with it]], Sharleyan of the ''Literature/{{Safehold}}'' series can be this. A specific example involves informing a man of his elevation to a Grand Duke ''just'' as the man in question is opening her carriage door for her purely to see the look on his face when the news hits him.
** In ''Midst Toil and Tribulation'', Sharleyan is offering generous terms to allow [[spoiler:Corisande to enter the Empire of Charis as a member nation instead of a conquered one]]. She does, however, have one catch she ''must'' insist on. She insists that [[spoiler:Corisande's princess Irys marry her stepson, who she had spent the book up to that point developing romantic feelings for]].
* ''X: Farnham's Legend'', the {{novelization}} of ''VideoGame/XBeyondTheFrontier'', mentions that [[PlayerCharacter Kyle Brennan]] and his best friend Elena Kho get a lot of amusement from pretend-flirting and otherwise feeding the rumors among their coworkers that they're in a SecretRelationship.
* Kavik from ''Literature/OfFearAndFaith'' likes to push his friends' buttons but it's all in good fun and he's a nice guy at heart who knows where to draw the line. That doesn't mean he won't have as much fun as possible at his friends' expense however.
* Silk from ''Literature/TheBelgariad'' lives for this. As one description puts it 'little man with a face like a weasel who thinks he's funny'.
* ''TheRailwaySeries'': Most of the Fat Controller's engines have gadfly tendencies. Thomas during his BrattyHalfPint days was particularly so, with a hobby of quietly creeping up on dozing big engines, waking them up suddenly, and then running off laughing. And in general, they all love pushing other engines' buttons and winding them up.
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Live Action TV]]
* Bill [=McNeil=] from NewsRadio. At some point, Dave has to explain to Mathew that Bill lies to him "because he thinks it's funny".
* In ''Series/BuffyTheVampireSlayer'', Jenny Calendar likes playfully teasing Giles by describing the damage she has either ignorantly or inadvertently done to his books. She's of course well aware of the value of the books and wouldn't think of damaging them: she just likes to see him squirm.
* In ''Series/{{Elementary}}'' Sherlock Holmes' hobby of messing with {{Conspiracy Theorist}}s may fall under this umbrella more than {{Troll}}ing, as there isn't any real malice in his habit of playing on their eccentricities for his own amusement.
-->"My hobby is conspiracy theorists. I adore them. As one would a barmy uncle. Or a pet that canít stop walking into walls.Ē
* ''Franchise/StarTrek'' has Q. This is an omnipotent SufficientlyAdvancedAlien who spends most days screwing with people and the fabric of the universe for his own amusement.
** Garak plays this role on ''Series/StarTrekDeepSpaceNine'', to the extent of deliberately screwing with people just to keep his skill in lying sharp.
* [[spoiler: The Mother]] in ''HowIMetYourMother'' is shown to have this tendency to deceive others for laughs, such as telling Lily that the cookies they had given her were from underneath a train seat and freaking out Marshall by pretending to be a creepy psychic who reads Marshall's situation with "frightening accuracy".
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Religion and Mythology]]
* OlderThanFeudalism: [[GreekMythology Eris, goddess of strife]], as described by {{Hesiod}}.
* [[NorseMythology Loki]] (see Film example above) . [[AndIMustScream He got his comeuppance.]]
* {{Satan}} (yes, that one) from Abrahamic religions. Depending on which text you believe, he might just be {{Troll}}ing the humans, or out-and-out [[ShapedLikeItself devilish]].
* The original use of the term by Socrates was inspired by the story of Bellerophon, who killed the chimera while riding the flying horse Pegasus. A gadfly bit Pegasus, who, startled, threw Bellerophon. He fell to his death, fitting the previous declarations that no man could survive battle with the chimera.
* This is essentially the job description of any and all {{Tricksters}} in polytheistic pantheons.
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Tabletop Games]]
* ''{{Exalted}}'': The Lunars of ages past either slavishly love their Solar mate, or being an extreme gadfly to them. It might have worked as an ad-hoc check and balance mechanism, since the Solars are divinely-empowered god-king superhumans with enough power to rule the entire universe.
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Video Games]]
* Jade Curtiss from ''VideoGame/TalesOfTheAbyss''. Jade routinely spars with the rest of the party verbally, and no one is entirely sure about his actual intentions. It doesn't help that his DeadpanSnarker nature means that he uses the same tone for nearly everything he says...
-->'''Anise:''' Colonel, what's your secret for being so strong?\\
'''Jade:''' Simple. I drink people's blood.\\
'''Anise:''' Huh?!\\
'''Jade:''' It's so difficult when people take me seriously...
** Tenebrae from ''TalesOfSymphoniaDawnOfTheNewWorld'' likes to push his teammates' buttons from time to time, probably the best example being him overhearing Sheena and Regal talking about how close Zelos is to his half-sister Seles, and then deliberately misinterpreting what they're saying as insinuating that he's in love with her. Right in front of him.
** Though the other characters like to give him his comeuppance on occasion as well, like when they keep deliberately calling the Nazdrovie a light-frog despite his constant insistence just to annoy him (and then switch back to calling it a Nazdrovie when he gives in and starts calling it a light-frog as well.)
** Another candidate would be Malik from ''VideoGame/TalesOfGraces'', who does this by telling resident NaiveEverygirl/[[spoiler:RidiculouslyHumanRobot]] Sophie ridiculous lies for the lulz. This includes suggesting that Pascal is a rare breed of fish, gills included. He finally meets his match in Graces f when Richard rejoins the party, because Richard is sometimes even better at this than Malik. Especially notable is the skit "Reforming Zavhert", in which Richard leads Asbel, Hubert and Cheria in sweet, sweet revenge:
--->'''Cheria:''' (discussing the dismal uniforms in Zavhert) What if you added a cute lacy frill to the cuffs of the coats? And maybe some designer logos!
--->'''Richard:''' Yes, that might work!
--->'''Malik:''' Your Majesty!?
--->'''Richard:''' And perhaps a sparkling white coat of paint for Fendel tower! I'm certain that would raise spirits!
--->'''Hubert:''' With a giant mech popping out!
--->'''Richard:''' Hahah! Yes, that would be wonderful!
--->'''Malik:''' (distraught) You can't be serious!
--->'''Richard:''' ''Or am I?''
** Ange from ''TalesOfInnocence'' is also a master of this, and like the aforementioned Jade, drops her gems in the same tone as everything else she says, so more often then not the rest of the party believes her until she says she's kidding.
** Alvin from ''VideoGame/TalesOfXillia'' gets in on this sometimes. For instance, telling Elise that wyverns feed on the souls of children while they sleep right after she comments on them not being as scary as she thought they would be.
* Kamikura Hiroki of ''{{Canvas 2}}'' enjoys picking on friends, love interests and students for fun. There are a few he won't mess with, but they are the exception rather than anything approaching the rule.
* Zevran in ''VideoGame/DragonAgeOrigins'' trolls the other party members in the party dialogue. Or at least, he trolls Wynne and Leliana. He even tells Leliana that he's doing it. ''Twice.'' She does get to one up him if she's been hardened, though.
** Hawke, the player character, in ''VideoGame/DragonAgeII'' can be this when choosing the Witty/Snarky options for dialogue.
** Isabela. Trolling is her way of saying she likes you.
* ''SilentHill3'' has Vincent, who's an asshole whichever way you see him... but a particular exchange he has with Heather in the final dungeon has been a source of debate among fans of the series ever since:
-->'''Vincent:''' Don't stand there looking so smug! You're the worst person in this room! You come here, and... ENJOY spilling their blood! And... and listening to them... cry out! You feel EXCITED when you... step on them and... snuff out their lives!\\
'''Heather:''' (''uncertainly'') Are you... talking about the monsters?\\
'''Vincent:''' (''giving her an odd look and smiling'') Monsters? They looked like monsters to you?\\
''Cue horrified reaction from Heather.''\\
'''Vincent:''' (''waving his hands and smirking'') Don't worry! It's just a joke!
* Miakis in ''SuikodenV'' loves to {{Troll}} Lymsleia, and sometimes [[TheHero the Prince]]. At least in the beginning.
* In ''VideoGame/MassEffect1'', Wrex has a habit of asking outrageous questions to squadmates in the elevators, just to see how they react.
* [[GodOfGood Lady Palutena]] in ''VideoGame/KidIcarusUprising'' messes with [[TheHero Pit]] nonstop, and does so [[{{Telepathy}} telepathically]] while Pit is busy fighting monsters.
* Gaius from ''RuneFactory3'' will occasionally drop a line of dialogue hinting that he may be attracted to the (male) player character. It's usually followed by a "just kidding, but your reaction was priceless" sort of justification, but that didn't stop him from being one of the more popular characters in the game.
* The protagonist from ''VideoGame/DevilSurvivor2'' can be played this way. Most dialogue options are either [[GenreSavvy serious]] or [[CloudCuckooLander silly]] and some of the sillier ones have him messing with his friends. Think of calling [[TheStoic Makoto]] a pervert even when she finally knocks before entering his room, sniffing her hand when she holds it out to him, yelling 'BOO!' at [[ShrinkingViolet Io]] while she's lost in thought or trying to pull [[ButtMonkey Daichi's]] pants down while he desperately tries to keep a box full of supplies from falling. The way the other characters react shows that he doesn't do this out of malice, but to keep everyone's spirits up in the CrapsackWorld that Japan has rapidly become.
* Karura in ''{{Utawarerumono}}'' thoroughly enjoys messing with Touka's head. Not that that's [[TheDitz very difficult.]] Also Hakuoro, but she's nice enough to everyone else.
* From ''VideoGame/{{Touhou}}'' we have the [[PetalPower flower youkai]] Yuuka Kazami. In ''Phantasmagoria of Flower View'', there are at least three instances where she lead other characters to believe she's the culprit of the flower incident, or [[SureLetsGoWithThat accept their accusations of such]]. Except that she's not, and was just picking fights [[ItAmusedMe for the lulz]]. She claimed it was just "daily teasing".
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Visual Novels]]
* Yuuichi in ''VisualNovel/{{Kanon}}'' is fond of making bizarre and outrageous claims while maintaining a completely serious atmosphere in order to confuse all his love interests. Few manage to catch on and also recognize when he is and isn't serious. This works really well considering he's also a DeadpanSnarker.
* ''VisualNovel/{{Clannad}}'s'' Tomoya is practically the personification of this trope. Generally, he's just having fun, but he also has difficulty being honest on occasion. It's most obvious in Tomoyo's route where the only reason he even gets to know her is specifically ''because'' he's doing this to Sunohara for shits and giggles.
** Naturally, this carried over into the [[{{Omake}} anime]]. [[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JaBNcYDnLRM It's a wonder that Sunohara listens to a word he says]]. Tomoyo also {{lampshade}}s this when she wonders if Sunohara is a masochist.
** Worth noting that Tomoya does [[CharacterDevelopment grow out of this as he matures.]]
* [[RuleOfThree Kouhei, the protagonist of]] ''[[VisualNovel/OneKagayakuKisetsuE ONE ~To The Radiant Season~]]'', made by Tactics, which later became {{Key Visual Arts}}, is also a good example of the gadfly. This goes as far as convincing a character to drink a soda that he considers to be [[LethalChef toxic]]. Of course, it just so happens that the [[EmotionlessGirl character in question]] [[NightmareFetishist actually LIKED the drink....]]
* In ''VisualNovel/LittleBusters'', however, the resident gadfly isn't protagonist [[NiceGuy Riki]] but [[TheTease Kurugaya]], who projects an air of a CoolBigSis and loves doting on her cute classmates, and just as much loves teasing them mercilessly. It's most obvious in the scenes during baseball training, where every day a girl will ask her for advice and she will suggest they do something completely ridiculous and embarrassing. She tells Riki it's for some higher purpose - like teaching them to trust themselves, for instance - but also readily admits that it's mostly just because it's funny.
* Tohsaka in ''FateStayNight'', who is also TheTease.
** Her Servant Archer is an even greater example; not in the least because it's [[DeadpanSnarker hard to tell when he's actually being serious and when he's just probing for a reaction]]. [[spoiler:And true to the origin of the term, Archer's verbal sparring is usually aimed with the goal of making the characters see their own flaws, such as Saber's wish and Shirou's blind adherence to the ideal of a 'hero'.]]
** Lancer can also be very verbally provocative when he wants to be. Extra points for trolling Tohsaka.
** Kotomine, as well. He is notable for never telling an actual lie while doing so. Considering he was Rin's guardian after her parents' deaths, she likely learned it from him.
* Kenichi in ''VisualNovel/SharinNoKuni'' is like this depending on who he's talking to. He more or less leaves Natsumi alone, but Kyouko points out fairly early that he's going to keep messing with Touka as long as she keeps reacting. This trope probably also applies to Isono.
** Kenichi also hews closer to the original definition at times - he intentionally disrupts the lifestyles the girls have adopted to work around their "obligations", as well as bringing up uncomfortable topics for discussion, usually relating to some past event in somebody's life he's been clued in to, to help them get over it.
* Yuki picks up this role in ''VisualNovel/GSenjouNoMaou'' though she isn't as blatant about it as Kenichi and it's only really apparent in the Mizuha route. It's never stated outright and is at least partially unintentional since she's simply not good with people, but it's implied that this is frequently what Usami is doing in her sillier moments.
* Akira in ''VisualNovel/{{Suika}}'' starts this way, especially in flashbacks. By the end, not so much.
* Taichi in ''CrossChannel'' adopts this as his default demeanor. [[spoiler:He has a hard time knowing where to draw the line and is often far more hurtful than he intends. It's also an act.]]
* Yamato in ''VisualNovel/MajiDeWatashiNiKoiShinasai'' enjoys making up new traditional Japanese customs whenever Chris calls him out on something, which helps build up their BelligerentSexualTension. Momoyo isn't above screwing with people either, but is generally more of a [[TheTease tease]].
* Mion Sonozaki in ''VisualNovel/HigurashiWhenTheyCry'' towards Keiichi, some of which entails being openly perverted towards said object of her affections. Her twin sister Shion acts this way as well with her [[TheTease teasing]] [[spoiler: but she becomes a horrifying {{Troll}} in arcs where she snaps.]]
** Keiichi has aspects of this towards Rena, especially in Onikakushi-hen.
* Ronove from ''VisualNovel/UminekoWhenTheyCry'' is fond of making snarky comments towards his master Beatrice, though she doesn't mind seeing as it makes things less boring. There's also Shannon, who likes making light hearted jabs that most people don't expect due to her usual [[ShrinkingViolet demure]] nature.
* Most Creator/VoltageInc romance games have at least one guy who enjoys picking on the protagonist to get a rise out of her, sometimes thanks to emotional issues that have led to difficulty in expressing affection honestly, sometimes just because he enjoys teasing the woman he loves. Examples include Kiyoto in ''VisualNovel/InYourArmsTonight'', Saeki in ''VisualNovel/MyForgedWedding'', Ryoichi in ''VisualNovel/SeducedInTheSleeplessCity'', Riki in ''VisualNovel/LoveLetterFromThiefX'', Homare in ''VisualNovel/ClassTripCrush'', and Minato in ''VisualNovel/OurTwoBedroomStory''.
* Okita Souji from ''VisualNovel/{{Hakuouki}}''. Between his [[GallowsHumor bad jokes]] and general trolling, he definitely is this, especially in the Drama [=CDs=]. Examples of his antics include stealing [[SoBadItsGood Hijikata's poetry book]] (repeatedly), bribing [[TheComicallySerious Saitou]] not to rat him out to Hijikata for various incidents right away with said poetry book, and adopting a cat and [[WeNamedTheMonkeyJack naming it Hijikata.]]
* Okabe Rintarou, the protagonist of ''VisualNovel/SteinsGate'', has a habit of messing with people when in his [[MadScientist Hououin Kyouma]] persona. Generally [[ItAmusedMe he just does it for the reaction]], but in later chapters he invokes it to avoid awkward confrontations. When he ''does'' drop the [[EmbarrassingNickname nicknaming]], perverted comments and evil laughter, [[YouCalledMeXItMustBeSerious it's a sign something is seriously wrong]].
[[/folder]]

[[folder:WebComics]]
* In ''FatedFeather'', Yote relentlessly teases friend and foe alike (even during moments of high drama), and the beginning of Chapter 7 suggests he does it just because he enjoys getting a rise out of people.
* Mike of ''Webcomic/{{Shortpacked}}'' is usually a puppy-kicking {{Jerkass}}, but occasionally he does or says horrible things to people that force them to acknowledge their own flaws.
* [[MasterOfIllusion Jack Snipe]] of ''{{Erfworld}}'' seems to enjoy needling people, and has a particular talent for deconstructing their psychological weaknesses; particularly [[TheStoic Wanda]].
* Black from Webcomic/GreyIs likes to make people angry because he loves the faces they make
* From ''{{Homestuck}}'', the Autoresponder seems to get a real kick out of screwing with people, especially Jake. It almost comes back to bite him when he has to convince Jake to [[MagicKiss kiss Dirk's severed head to bring him back to life]] but, because he can't resist leeringly hitting on him and making jokes about ''ASpaceOdyssey'' even as he tells him that his friends are dead, [[CryingWolf Jake almost refuses to believe him.]]
* The norm for the Norringtons in {{Webcomic/Roommates}}, be it Mrs. N who makes a sport of making people fluster (and by people we mean anybody from her son to powerful fae lords) to James who deliberatelly trolls his roommate with his most hated running gag.
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[[folder:WebOriginal]]
* In ''Machinima/RedVsBlue'', Grif often works as a gadfly to Simmons, most notably when he lies to Sarge about seeing Sheila, just for the sake of making Simmons look crazy.
* ''WebVideo/UltraFastPony'' depicts Pinkie Pie employing bizarre, long-term pranks just to annoy Twilight. These include pretending to believe she has an unexplainable "Pinkie Sense" and (according to the WhereAreTheyNowEpilogue) learning how to fly.
* [[WebVideo/AtopTheFourthWall Linkara]]. Things like claiming he only follows [[SarcasmMode real reviewers]] like TheIrateGamer, etc...
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[[folder: Western Animation]]
* Ikki from ''WesternAnimation/TheLegendOfKorra'' is a GenkiGirl AnnoyingYoungerSibling who has shown shades of this from saying inappropriate comments about somebody's features (Tarrlok smelling like a woman) to bringing up [[ShipTease love concerns between the main characters]] out of nowhere.
* ''[[WesternAnimation Bob's Burgers]]'': Louise, the youngest child of the Belcher family, is constantly messing with people she thinks are stupid. This list apparently includes her school guidance counselor, her other teachers, the neighbor kids, her own siblings and anyone she has just met. Whether she's gently teasing or deliberately trying to cause mayhem is often hard to tell; either way, she always brings the joke as far as it can possibly go. [[EnfantTerrible Louise is a frightening child.]]
* ''WesternAnimation/MyLittlePonyFriendshipIsMagic'': Discord starts out as something of a MadGod, but once he "reforms", he turns into something more along the lines of this trope. He's no longer evil and malicious, but he certainly gets a kick out of messing with the other characters, ''especially'' Twilight.
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[[folder:Real Life]]
* Creator/AndyKaufman had a separate stage persona for this, and became rather famous for being a jerk due to the difficulty in telling the difference between Andy and Tony. Onstage, he was already a bit infamous; he was often too committed to the 'bit', and when his audience became uncomfortable, he'd drag it out for ages and let them stew in their juices.
* HLMencken said:
-->''"The final test of truth is ridicule. Very few dogmas have ever faced it and survived."''
* Ted L. Nancy, the pseudonymous author of the ''Letters From a Nut'' series. Over the course of a few years in the 1990s, Nancy sent a number of hilariously absurd letters to hotels, corporations, and even foreign royalty. A frequent gag involved Nancy writing ahead to make some bizarre accommodation request of a luxury resort. Major news outlets speculated on the identity of this mysterious gadfly, the two most common suspects being JerrySeinfeld (who wrote the foreword to the books) and LarryDavid. Nearly a decade later, comedians Bruce Baum and Barry Marder admitted to co-authoring the letters under the shared pseudonym.
* Voice actor PhilHendrie, often called the Andy Kaufman of the airwaves, has a nationally syndicated radio show based entirely on this premise. Hendrie calls into his own show as the "guest", and proceeds to bait callers by taking an outrageous position on some hot-button social or political issue.
* This is TruthInTelevision on webforums and chatrooms... and to some extent, even here on TVTropes itself. The line between this and {{Troll}}ing is a fine and subjective one.
* Creator/HarlanEllison:
--> I spend my life personally, and my work professionally, keeping the soup boiling. Gadfly is what they call you when you are no longer dangerous; I much prefer troublemaker, malcontent, desperado. I see myself as a combination of {{Zorro}} and [[Disney/{{Pinocchio}} Jiminy Cricket]]. My stories go out from here and raise hell. From time to time some denigrator or critic with umbrage will say of my work, "He only wrote that to shock." I smile and nod. Precisely.
* The name comes from the term social gadfly. The trope namer, Creator/{{Socrates}}, said that like a gadfly he could be easily swatted, but that a government who does such thing pays too heavy a price. The gadfly would help improve politics by raising unpopular, controversial viewpoints for discussion. This didn't work out so well for him. Now, the term generally refers to someone who simply pushes people's buttons for amusement.
* Creator/FriedrichNietzsche is often called a gadfly, apparently sometimes calling himself that (or something similar) at times, and nobody's really sure how many of his (ever-shifting) opinions and proclamations were really his, or intended to provoke his contemporaries. Some things he did ''absolutely were'' intended as provocations, like titling one of his works, criticizing institutional Christianity, ''The Antichrist''. He certainly would appreciate the comparison to Socrates; although he despised Socratic philosophy, he regarded the man himself as a transformative figure and WorthyOpponent, and liked to set himself up as a sort of anti-Socrates for the modern age. And he definitely seemed to find the reactions he provoked amusing, or at least energizing; if his writing is any indication, Nietzsche had a wicked sense of humor. He was not a {{Troll}}, however: his intent was to improve the West, not cruelly annoy it for no reason.
* This was the job of a court [[TheJester jester]]. [[OffWithHisHead Things didn't end too well for some of them]].
** At the same time, they were also permitted (usually; see above) to go ''far'' beyond the limits that would be acceptable for nobility, due to their role in the court. Even if they genuinely angered someone of power, ''showing'' that one was so thin-skinned as to take offence at a jester would often make the offended party look worse than the insult itself.
* The concept of [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Devil%27s_advocate Devil's Advocate]], a [[DevilsAdvocate trope unto itself.]]
* [[AcceptableTargets Advocates in general.]]
* When Creator/ElijahWood was in New York promoting ''Film/TheLordOfTheRings: The Return of the King'', Dominic Monaghan called from Berlin, pretending to be [[FunnyForeigner Hans Jensen, a German TV host]]. During the interview, Monaghan/Jensen asked Wood a bunch of ridiculous questions (e.g., asking Wood if he played soccer, they clarifying it with, "Do you [[GroinAttack kick balls]]?"); Monaghan couldn't keep a straight face and was barely able to keep from laughing. The result can be seen on the ''Return of the King'' extended edition DVD with an introduction from Wood (who, once the joke was revealed, found the whole thing "brilliant").
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