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Bullying A Dragon: Literature
  • Played in the Gone series by all the normal kids towards the freaks.
  • Subverted in Kitty Goes to Washington, by Carrie Vaughn, wherein Kitty is kidnapped and forced to shape shift on TV, and the only real consequences incurred by the Senator who set it all up is an off-screen lawsuit and criminal charges.
  • Carrie's mother from Stephen King's Carrie. Unlike Carrie's jackass classmates who knew nothing of her telekinetic powers, Ms. White was all too well aware of her daughter's potential, so her persistent abuse of Carrie definitely classifies as bullying a dragon bordering on Too Fanatically Pious To Live. In fact, Carrie's mother had almost killed her once before when she was three, all because Carrie accidentally saw her then-teenage neighbor's breasts (said neighbor had fallen asleep in her backyard while sunbathing and her top had slipped off). The only thing that stopped her was being frightened into submission after witnessing Carrie wreak havoc with the house; unfortunately, it wasn't enough to keep her from continuing the abuse for the next fourteen years.
  • Harry Potter.
    • The Dursleys. In what little fairness that could be mustered, it is illegal for Harry and other wizards to retaliate via magic, but that doesn't stop Hagrid and Harry on occasion. And they were abusing him before they knew it was illegal for him to retaliate magically. They also seemed to think that they could "stamp the magic out" of him by treating him badly.
    • When Hagrid comes to collect Harry, Vernon demands that he leave, threatens Harry in front of him, insults magic and continues making Hagrid angry until he pushes Hagrid's Berserk Button. Hagrid is a half-giant with Super Strength who'd just bent a shotgun.
    • In Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, Quirrell is often picked on by his own students (Fred and George charming snowballs to hit him in the head as only one example of many) and it is revealed he was also bullied while at school, only this turns out to be unwise when he turns out literally to be under Voldemort's power
    • The goblins trained the dragon guarding a Gringotts vault by pressing hot metal against its face while ringing the Clankers, so the dragon would learn to retreat when he heard the noise. The dragon ends up destroying part of the bank while helping the trio escape.
    • Wizards often bully house elves, who are able to, at least, send them flying backwards with their magic if angered. However, house elves generally can't use their magic without permission from their masters. Besides that, their extremely servile personalities guarantee they won't retaliate no matter how badly they are mistreated.
    • The Latin motto of the Hogwarts school, Draco Dormiens Nunquam Titillandus, means "Never tickle a sleeping dragon."
    • In the third book, Malfoy openly insults a hippogriff even though it is very large, very dangerous, understands everything you say and will turn hostile if you don't treat it with proper respect. Yes, let's ignore the words of the teacher who has spent his entire life working on magical beasts, there's obviously no situation that cannot be improved with a dash of spiteful arrogance. Insulting always works. In his defense, it did.
    • Dolores Umbridge gets maulednote  by a herd of centaurs after she keeps insulting them. They give her the signs that they're getting pissed and she still keeps up the insulting, which was unwise.
  • In the book Benvenuto by Seymour Reit, the titular dragon, belonging to a boy named Paolo, is bullied by an older boy named Roy Selby. When Paolo tells Roy to lay off Bevenuto, Roy is all too eager to beat up Paolo. And the dragon, despite his small size, starts dishing out firey retribution to Roy for picking on his friend!
  • Occurs in the backstory to The Belgariad; Gorim bullies UL, hinted at being that universe's equivalent of God, into accepting him and his people.
    "How do you bully a God?"
    "Very, very carefully."
  • Pointing this trope out is how Zedd drives off a lynch mob after him in the first book of the Sword of Truth series. The mob is going after him because they believe he has terrible magic powers, so Zedd asks them to list what some of these powers might be, and once they do, Zedd points out how brave these men must be to come after a Person of Mass Destruction with nothing but torches and pitchforks. This is enough to make them back down, though Zedd throws in an additional mind game to make them really sorry.
  • In the Mercy Thompson books, Jesse Hauptmann is beat up because her father, Adam, is a werewolf (in fact, he's the local Alpha). Luckily for her attackers, she won't tell her father who they are, as she doesn't want them to be killed.
  • In the Deepgate Codex books, we have Carnival, who is the scapegoat of the eponymous city. To be fair, they have reason to hate her—she kills one of their citizens every month to sustain herself—but they tend to take things a little too far by blaming her for every little thing. In one of the books, she's just looking for a safe place to hide when a little girl wanders up to her; the girl's mother grabs her away, starts screaming "Don't you touch her, bitch!" at Carnival, and calls the guards down. The mother then reports that Carnival had attacked them to the Church (which tries to hunt her down), when all she did was run away.
  • People try to bully Drizzt of The Dark Elf Trilogy a lot, on the assumption that he's a normal evil drow. Amusingly, the fact that he isn't is the only reason they don't end up holding their intestines with their hands.
    • Perhaps a better example would be House Do'Urden's attempts in the Dark Elf trilogy to kill Drizzt. He repeatedly repels their efforts, and then attempt to send his resurrected mentor against him, only for his mentor to sacrifice himself to prevent himself from killing Drizzt. Later in the canonical series, Lolth The Spider Queen, who would have already seen everything Drizzt has done, seems to think mortal efforts can put him down. It does NOT end well.
  • In two books (The Wizard Heir and The Dragon Heir) there is a girl named Madison who is a witch. People frequently blame her for the many fires that happen around town. This is disproved when the fires are revealed to have been started by the son of a prominent businessman that wants the mountain Madison lives on because the mountain has a very large deposit of coal that he wants to mine. The boy, even though he's a wizard, takes this to extremes by eventually trying to burn down Madison's house, with her and her younger siblings inside, claiming that the town knew something was wrong with her and all he had to do was point the finger at her and they'd all believe him because of his position.
  • In the early days of Julian May's Galactic Milieu world, people with Psychic Powers were actively discriminated against, and frequently attacked, often on religious grounds. One prominent (female) psychic was gunned down by a priest, loudly quoting "Thou shalt not suffer a witch to live!" This led directly to psychics discovering that they could set fire to people just by being angry enough.
  • Averted in The Dark Tower I: The Gunslinger by Stephen King. A mook approaches Badass Roland Deschain while his back is turned, intent on harm as evidenced by his hand on his knife. Roland, without bothering to turn around or even look up, advises him to "Do yourself a favor, cully, and go sit down." The mook wisely does so, almost certainly avoiding harm or even death. Roland is later shown to be a Hardcore Badass when he is Zergrushed by the townsfolk, and kills every man, woman and child in town.
  • Throughout The First Law trilogy by Joe Abercrombie, Bayaz, First of the Magi and Logen "The Bloody Nine" Ninefingers are underestimated, dismissed, or even insulted, threatened, or ignored as irrelevant, always to the sorrow of those who did so.
    • Somewhat understandable in the case of Bayaz, since he's a thousand-year-old wizard who looks middle-aged in a setting where the average lifespan is in the thirties and most nations don't really believe that his kind of magic is a real thing. Runs into Too Dumb to Live territory in Logen's case since he's a tall, muscular man covered in battle scars from an ethnicity renowned the world over for engaging in ultraviolence at the drop of a hat.
  • People keep antagonizing Honor Harrington. They know her record. They know what she can do. They know her in-universe Fan Nickname is "The Salamander" because she survives - and wins - battles that can and have killed equally skilled officers. They know she has a living buzzsaw as a pet/partner, the ear of the Queen, the loyalty of virtually the entire Manticoran Navy and scores of scary people for whom this is a Berserk Button. But they keep doing it. Exceedingly unpleasant consequences (usually involving bleeding and/or death) follow. Especially for Pavel Young.
    • The same goes- perhaps even moreso- for the utter fools who keep trying to hurt Anton Zilwicki's kids.
    • Averted when one of Luiz Rozsak's subordinates suggests having Thandi killed to tie up the last loose end, and he points out that not only was she the deadliest assassin in their gang, but doing so would also homicidally piss off all her new friends - including the galaxy's most notorious terrorist and the top secret agents of both Haven and Manticore.
  • Happens in the Mass Effect novel Ascension where one of the kids in the Ascension Project decides to pick on Gillian Grayson.
    • Also happens in another novel, when a human merc threatens a krogan Battle Master with a pistol. The krogan actually gives the guy every chance to back down. When the guy doesn't, the krogan sends him flying with a biotic blast, and the guy breaks his neck. Interestingly, the krogan wasn't wearing any armor, but krogans come from a Death World, so their bodies are naturally tough. A pistol in the hands of a merc wouldn't do much damage to him.
  • The Bible
    • A group of young men mock Elisha, one of God's prophets. Guess what happened next.
    • Earlier parts of the Bible have quite a few incidents where the Hebrews get tired of their god, with the most famous being the incident with the golden calf.
    • Harassing Old Testament prophets frequently qualified for this trope. Elisha's mentor Elijah had a habit of calling down fire from heaven when disrespected, disbelieved, or threatened.
    • Jesus himself was almost stoned on several occasions, but he just walked through the crowd unharmed each time. His disciples wanted him to call down fire on one occasion, but he told them he wasn't into that sort of thing. Even when he was being arrested just prior to his resurrection, he very calmly points out that he has all of Heaven's angels on speed dial if he wanted a Big Damn Heroes moment. And while hanging on the cross, he was mocked: "If you really are the Son of God, then come down from there!" The Book of Revelations lays out the future comeuppance that those who reject(ed) him can look forward to.
    • See also The Wandering Jew, cursed by Jesus for mocking him on the cross.
  • More or less played straight in Darkest Powers with Derek, who, being a sixteen-year-old werewolf, is incredibly strong and capable of catching a thrown bowling ball with no trouble whatsoever. The day after his somewhat over-the-top defense of his brother ends up with him breaking said tormentor’s back by accident, he gets surrounded by a bunch of kids - including the hospitalized one’s younger brother - who are looking to pick a fight and get revenge. Not the smartest idea considering what he had just shown to be capable of, though it’s probably worth noting that none of them knew he was a werewolf or about the full extent of his strength. But still, going after a guy who broke someone’s back just by throwing him? Not a good idea, guys.
  • In Patricia C. Wrede's Thirteenth Child, Eff is the titular thirteenth child, doomed to bring bad luck, and turn out evil. What does Eff's uncle do? What do you think...? Eff even asks her Uncle why he would do so, when he knows what she's supposedly capable of. Ultimately, she does snap and (accidentally) proves what she can really do, leading even him to realize that, hold up, maybe I shouldn't be bullying the dragon after all. The twist is that she may not really be an evil thirteenth child, as under a different magic system thirteen is a lucky number!
  • There are a surprising number of factions in Iain M. Banks's Culture novels who think it's a good idea to fuck with the Culture. Never ends well. These factions are either themselves among the most powerful civilizations of the galaxy, or are kept in the dark about the Culture's firepower... by the Culture itself.
  • BattleTech novels: A bunch of common street punks attempt to provoke a Clan Elemental into a fight during the course of a Halloween celebration. An Elemental is a Powered Armor-wearing Super Soldier bred from birth to take on 'Mechs and win, standing somewhere between 7 and 8 feet tall and weighing over three hundred pounds. While the Elemental was not wearing his armor, he still easily flattens all but one of the punks, who wisely flees the situation.
    • Close Quarters has the main character, Cassie, use a bolter on a battlemech to provoke it into chasing her. The metallic ping against the cockpit window is a direct insult to the mechwarrior's arrogance, which causes them to give chase. She runs through a few buildings before surprising the mech with an electrical attack to the knee joint. The electricity spot-welds the joint, and crashes the mech to on the ground. She repeats the same action later in the novel by attracting a mech into swampy terrain where it gets stuck and crashes on the ground.
  • The Millennium Trilogy
    • In The Girl Who Played with Fire, Bjurman Can't help but try to screw with a woman he raped sadistically...the same woman who was able to prove that he was a sadistic rapist...and the one who also raped him.
  • Discworld
    • In Unseen Academicals, Andy Shank continues to antagonize Mr. Nutt after finding out he's an orc, and later the Shove taunts Nutt for this same fact. Of course, Andy is Ax-Crazy, and it's frequently said in the Discworld books that the IQ of an angry mob is that of its stupidest member, divided by the number of members.
      • In the Big Match Andy and his cohorts commit many acts of Unnecessary Roughness against the UU team, seemingly forgetting that the UU players are the most powerful wizards on the Discworld. However, whoever poisoned the Librarian's banana must have been outright suicidal.
    • Snuff has a warning from Sam Vimes' butler to someone who was tempted to start bullying (or at the very least, be annoying). Messing with him is probably the only way to piss off the Dwarfs, the Trolls, Ankh-Morpork, AND Überwald at the same time, so it would be... unwise. To say nothing of the more immediate effects of pissing off Sam Vimes.
    • In "The Sea And Little Fishes", and to a lesser extent in A Hat Full of Sky, Mrs. Letice Earwig seems to think patronising the Good Is Not Nice Determinator Granny Weatherwax is a sensible thing to do.
    • This is one of the many actions that are considered "suicide" in Ankh-Morpork. Be it calling a dwarf a lawn ornament, insulting a troll, or calling the Librarian a monkey. Most things on the disc will kill you in some form or fashion if you're stupid enough, even the rabbits.
  • In The Princess Bride children would often bully Fezzik the GIANT because they knew he wouldn't fight back. Ironically, in the movie he was played by Andre Roussimoff.
  • Of Mice and Men has Curly, a light-weight boxer, picking a fight with Lennie; it ended with Lennie crushing Curly's hand to a near-pulp.
  • In The Dresden Files short story Day Off, a small-time (very small time!) hedge practitioner and his female assistants/cultists challenge Harry Dresden, full Wizard and Warden of the White Council, to a magical duel, to make a point. Harry proceeds to truthfully point out several different ways that they are utterly outmatched and out of their league, both in terms of personal magical ability and combat experience (i.e. when Harry responds to their challenge by pulling out a revolver, they almost panic on the spot).
    • To further illustrate the difference: "Darth Wannabe" and his posse barely have enough magic to make pathetic curses or give someone a nosebleed. Harry tends to cause massive property damage whenever he cuts loose, once tossed a car onto another practitioner, and killed a fully-fledged dark wizard when he was seventeen.
    • They were so magically weak that when they cursed someone, Harry didn't even notice it. He just performed the cleansing ritual to set his client's mind at ease, more or less dispelling the "curse" by accident.
  • The Big Bad of Warrior Cats dies because of this. He tries to push around Scourge, who gets tired of him and kills him. Nine times. In one blow.
  • The Wheel of Time
    • In Lord of Chaos, the Aes Sedai attempt to "tame" Rand al'Thor, the Dragon Reborn by kidnapping him and transporting him inside a wooden chest, freeing him from imprisonment only for daily abuse. This, despite the knowledge that the Dragon Reborn is the Reincarnation of the most powerful male channeller known to history, and the legends stating that only he can prevent The End of the World as We Know It (albeit by breaking it). The reason they do this, however is that one of them is a Black Ajah, working for the other side, who manipulates the others into following a course of action that could drive Rand insane.
    • Cadsuane Melaidhrin passive-aggressively bullies Rand and pretty much everyone else in the series. Finally gets called out for it by Rand's father.
  • In the Star Trek: The Next Generation giant novel Vendetta one of Picard's academy rivals, now also a starship captain, attempts this on the captain of an advanced version of the "planet killer" from the original series during a diplomatic negotiation. Said planet killer ship had just reduced a borg cube to scrap metal with little difficulty. When his actions derail Picard's attempt to forge a full alliance with the planet killer's captain Picard wastes no time on calling him out on it.
    Picard: ...trying to bully someone is a distasteful tactic under any circumstance. To bully someone when you're not dealing from strength is sheer lunacy!
  • Brought up in Luke Skywalker and the Shadows of Mindor. Luke allows some stormtroopers to take him captive so they will Take Me to Your Leader, but they get offended by his questions and generally how he doesn't act the cowed prisoner, so one of them tries clubbing him with a blaster rifle. Luke just says "Please don't hit me"; when the stormtrooper keeps at it, Luke casually shatters the weapon. Then one tries shooting him at point-blank range. The book takes place a year after Return of the Jedi, and it's a plot point that these stormtroopers know about Luke's skills, but they still tried this.
    "Please don't shoot me, either." He turned the palm upward in a friendly shrug and let the astonished troopers stare at the only effect of the Force-blunted blasterfire: a faint curl of steam that trailed upward from his unmarked palm. "Let's try to end the day with nobody else dying, shall we?"
    • In Galaxy of Fear, a bit of local mythology is told to our protagonists. A Necromancer witch boasted of her powers, the people decided to kill her son and challenge her to raise him from the dead, she put a curse on them and their descendants before dying of despair. That was hundreds of years ago and isn't taken seriously by said descendents... until zombies start appearing.
  • In Bujold's The Vor Game, an old-school, "Captain Bligh" style officer named General Metzov running a subarctic training camp chooses to order raw recruits outside his chain of command to hold his men naked in the snow at gunpoint in front of the eyes of one Ensign Miles Vorkosigan. As in son of the Prime Ministernote , foster brother to The Emperor, family friend to the head of Imperial Security. When the new Weather Officer objects Metzov insists he joins them.
    • The trope is lampshaded in a later novel, when a drunken Vor lord accuses Miles of committing murder and getting away with it due to his family connections. Miles (who didn't do it, but can't discuss the matter for security reasons) coldly asks, "If you truly believe that, why are you standing in my way?" The other man backs down in a hurry.
  • A few Too Dumb to Live human racists in the Garrett, P.I. novels have attempted to bully non-humans that could wipe the floor with them. While trying it on half-darkelf Morley Dotes may be justified by ignorance (because he doesn't look like TunFaire's deadliest hitman), throwing rocks or insults at Doris and Marsha, who are twenty-foot tall giant/troll hybrids, is just plain imbecilic.
  • Chicagolands Vampires by Chloe Neill: racist humans don't seem to think anything of harassing vampires.
  • A Song of Ice and Fire has a few. Annoying the hardarse that is Tywin Lannister even slightly is... not recommended, and everybody knows it. But, several people in the series try doing exactly that. Usually with very predictable results. Similarly, most knights know better than to try taking on Memetic Badasses like Jaime Lannister, the Cleganes or Barristen Selmy in a straight fight. But, a few try, anyway: oops. And, you'd be surprised at the number of people who try annoying three dragons, let alone the Targaryen with them... Yup: annoy the flying nukes, young though they are, along with their sitter with the name you should note as being a dangerous one. Go ahead.
Live-Action FilmsBullying a DragonLive-Action TV

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