TV series with their own pages
- Veronica Mars demonstrates over and over that a) she's very helpful to have on your side when you're in trouble and b) she can and will mess you up if she feels like it. Doesn't matter; everyone at Neptune High continues to mock her and treat her as a scorned outcast. Lampshaded in season three when Veronica asks Dick how after all he's seen her do, he still doesn't fear her. The guy she goes to after Dick tries to get tough with her, but runs after her to give her what she wants. The third guy stands tough. On a date that night, his credit card is declined and the tires are stolen off his car, then he walks into his unlit dorm room to find Veronic waiting for him with a taser.
Veronica: Wanna find out how far I'll go?
- Buffy the Vampire Slayer: In early episodes it was known to all that at the very least Buffy had burned down the gym at her previous high school, yet people like Cordelia and Harmony picked on her anyway.
- In the third series of Blackadder, two foppish actors learn about this trope the hard way. They spend the better part of the episode insulting the title character, and then a misunderstanding leads Baldrick to believe they're traitorous anarchists. Blackadder investigates, immediately realizes what's going on, and confirms Baldrick's suspicions.
- In Volume 5 of Heroes, Edgar the Knifethrower deliberately starts a feud with amnesiac arch-villain Sylar, not only despite but even because of Sylar apparently having a well-known reputation amongst the superpowered community as an unstoppable brain-stealing murder machine. Sure, Edgar is Darth Maul and amnesiac Sylar is quite mild-mannered, but it still looks like Edgar is just asking for trouble.
- In Dexter, it's really not a good idea to threaten the title character, or especially his family, but most people don't know that he's a serial killer. There are the occasional exceptions, like Lila, and Miguel Prado
- Many episodes of The A-Team have some incredibly small and weedy-looking men attempting to push an angry-looking Mr. T around, and then actually looking surprised when they get thrown through a window. Possibly they're surprised at the lack of injury.
- In The Flash (2014), Eddie Thawne wants to assemble a police task force to capture the Flash, who he sees as responsible for the dangerous events in Central City. Problem is, The Flash has Super Speed. Eddie quickly realizes how out of his depth he is when he's beaten senseless by the speedster under the control of another metahuman, but he puts together his task force anyway. It's only after The Flash saves him from the Reverse-Flash does he warm up to a partnership.
- On Bewitched, the fact that Endora was a powerful sorceress rarely dissuaded Darrin from telling her off, even though quite a lot of the curses he suffered over the show's run happened as a result. Even worse were the few times he argued with Samantha's father, who even Endora was afraid of. Justified in that Darrin knew full well that Sam's family hated him (or rather, hated the idea of him, a mortal, married to Samantha) and would be just as likely to zap him if he kept his mouth shut as if he spoke his mind.
- In Star Trek: The Original Series, "The Man Trap", Spock slaps around an alien that has previously shown the ability to overpower him. It was justified in that he was trying to prove that it wasn't who it looked like and was therefore willing to take the risks involved.
- In The Twilight Zone episode "The Last Rites of Jeff Myrtlebank", a dead man revives in the middle of his funeral, which leads the townspeople to believe that his corpse was possessed by a demon. As the episode progresses, these people decide to attempt to force the young man out of town. He gets them to back down by invoking this very trope by stating that if he really is a demon, then they would have more sense to treat him nicely because he could really mess up their lives if he decided to.
- Gossip Girl: Surprisingly often someone tries to hurt or annoy Chuck Bass. They never learn that it's a big mistake to do so. Blair as well. And if you take on both of them, well...
- Kamen Rider Gaim: Taunting a short tempered leader of the team Baron that can take on monsters from another world sounds like a good idea? And especially when he doesn't deserve it? What the hell is wrong with you people?!
- Kamen Rider Build: Ryuuga Banjo attacks Blood Stalk despite knowing full well just how outmatched he is after an earlier attempt that was even less thought out and nearly got him killed. He still goes with it because he has people to protect and unfinished business with Stalk.
- Clark Kent was often bullied on despite that fact that even without powers, he is still very buff and capable of punching people out.
- In the episode "Rogue", a Dirty Cop who sees Clark using his powers uses that knowledge to blackmail him. Sure, Clark's Thou Shalt Not Kill philosophy prevents him from easily killing the guy with said powers, but he doesn't know that. All he knows is that Clark is tough enough to stop an out-of-control bus by stepping in front of it and strong enough to toss a generator across a room like a wad of paper. And yet, he keeps on provoking him and even threatening his family. Karmic Death took care of him.
- In "Infamous", Linda Lake is dumb enough to try doing this to Davis Bloome a.k.a. Doomsday. The latter is quick to Kick the Son of a Bitch.
- On Chuck, this happens more often than not with Casey in a comedic sense, like when he's filled his daily quotient of stupidity from the Buy Morons, but every so often this trope come into play on a serious issue. In "Chuck vs. Operation Awesome", an old oriental woman is bitching at Chuck about the Buy More's lack of customer service, while Chuck is just concerned with wanting to tell someone outside the loop about his being a spy, worrying for Devon's safety (since he's been kidnapped), and his feelings toward Sarah. He finally snaps, flashes on how to speak Korean, and yells at the woman in her native tongue to more-or-less Shut the Fuck Up, surprising everyone around him, including Jeff, Lester, and more importantly Sarah, because he's always been so pacifistic. It's made even more apparent when Chuck Intersect-kicks Lester for trying to mess with him, Bruce Lee-style only moments after telling off the Korean lady, which drops everyone's jaws even further.
- Benjamin Lennox's first meeting with Hyde in Jekyll is made of this trope. It starts off with him interrupting Hyde while he's having sex, and it just goes downhill from there... in retrospect, claiming to own the superpowered psychopath was probably a bad idea.
- The Addams Family. Most people are just terrified, but there are some who are more antagonistic. They don't see the problem with being offensive to people who consider torture a nice activity for the whole family. Fortunately for them, the Addamses are very nice people. But then, there is their family motto... "We gladly feast on those who would subdue us."
- In The X-Files episode "Schizogeny", everyone believes that a sixteen-year-old murdered his stepfather. Some of his classmates get in his face and make fun of him for being a "psycho killer". They apparently thought there was no way this could backfire on them.
- True Blood:
- Common humans feel the need to pick on vampires, even though vampires are superhumanly powerful and like to eat people. This is particularly egregious because so many vampires are disinclined to hold back and will cheerfully rip out your throat as your reward for successfully pissing them off.
- One notable example is when a back-country sheriff deputy harasses Bill Compton for being a vampire and calls him "boy," drawing very clumsy and illogical parallels to Jim Crow.
- The Brotherhood of the Sun are religious bigots who decide that kidnapping Godric is a good idea to show the vampires that they mean business. They don't seem to think about the fact that Godric commands some very nasty and violent Texan vampires who are only kept in check because he is now a pacifist. Godric is also over two thousand years old and commands the loyalty of some really powerful vampires like Eric.
- The Vampire Queen of Louisiana tends to bully her subject vampires and order them to do things that they find distasteful. She seems to forget that some of them like Eric are actually older than her and only follow her out of feudal loyalty.
- She herself is shocked when Bill does this, claiming that, as someone twice his age, she can kick his ass without breaking a sweat (not that vampires sweat). She proceeds to curb-stomp him... before Bill reveals that he was just keeping her busy, so that she doesn't notice a squad of well-armed men entering the house, whose fully-automatic guns are loaded with wooden bullets.
- One episode of iCarly had a newcomer bully who liked to pick on Sam. Sam didn't retaliate as she wanted a boy she liked to see her as normal. However, near the end, when the trio are at their local hangout waiting for said boy, the bully arrives and starts hassling the three. Said bully finally goes too far when she pushes Carly (who was keeping Sam back), who promptly orders Sam to "rip her head off!" Sam gladly goes to town on her.
- On Night Court, Dan Fielding is a big jerk who tends to insult everyone (even people who have the authority to fire him, which has happened a couple of times) and one frequent target of his insults was Bull Shannon, the 6'8" baliff who in one episode proved strong enough to crush a bowling ball in his bare hands. Fortunately for Dan, Bull was usually a nice guy, but if you did make him angry, it wasn't going to end well...
- The Vampire Diaries:
- Why don't people learn that annoying Damon Salvatore isn't a good idea...?
- Damon himself can't seem to get into his head that Katherine is stronger and nastier then him, capable of using most of the town as weapons, and can enter his and his love interest's home anytime she wants. A lot of Damon and Stefan's conversations in the second season include Stefan reminding him to 1) stop letting her manipulate him, and 2) stop trying to make her angry.
- Damon seems to have a major problem with this trope. He also tried to intimidate Pearl, who had a few hundred years on him and responded by gouging out his eyes, Jules, a werewolf, during the full moon, and Elijah, who's an Original vampire and could decapitate him with one punch.
- Klaus. Anyone trying to use/play/betray Klaus or any of the other Originals has to have a death wish.
- Walker, Texas Ranger has an example of Mugging the Monster that crosses into this. While shopping for wedding china with his fiance, Walker notices a man loudly harassing a woman and attacking an employee who tries to make him leave. Walker intervenes and tells the man to leave, and the man takes a swing at him. Walker effortlessly blocks it, informs the man that he's a Texas Ranger and tells him to leave again. Then the man decides to try to hit Walker again, and naturally gets the crap beaten out of him, without a single piece of china being damaged.
- Subverted on Angel. Gwen is a young woman who can electrocute people by touching them with her bare skin. As a child, she was sent to a boarding school and is approached by a boy asking if she's "a freak." The audience braces itself... but he's not bullying her, just asking her an innocent question, and follows up with "you don't look like a freak." Unfortunately, he offers to share a toy car with her, and when she reaches out to take it, she ends up electrocuting him to death anyway.
- Glee's Santana Lopez — a tallish, bitchy but light cheerleader who can hold her own in Cat Fight against most girls in the school - picks a fight with Lauren Zizes over her developing relationship with Puck. Unfortunately for Santana, Lauren is the Ohio state champion in greco-roman wrestling, and a big, confident girl with a bad attitude to boot. Calling the resultant fight a Curbstomp Battle is possibly longer than the actual fight.
- Power Rangers:
- From Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers we have Bulk and Skull, who (as Linkara pointed out) regularly bullied a group of six classmates, all of whom could easily beat the crap out of them (even though they mostly seemed to pick on Billy, the weakest of the group). Luckily for them, the Rangers were far too nice to ever do anything. It is shown in Tommy's introduction, though: they go to harass the new kid, only for him to pull off an impromptu demonstration of his martial arts skills (never actually touching either bully), which causes them to run away in wide-eyed terror. They've also been willing to attack monsters and mooks, occasionally even saving the day.
- In Turbo, Justin Stewart, who is a child-prodigy in Angel Grove High School as well as the Turbo Blue Ranger, got faced with a similar situation when a duo of teen bullies tried to threaten him for refusing to help them cheat on a test as well as telling on them for when they pulled the fire alarm as a class prank. The bullies here, however, were played considerably more serious, to the point where Justin was shown to have been tempted to use his Ranger powers to fight them back (though even if he didn't, he's a skilled enough martial artist that he could likely still mop the floor with them before it's time for lunch). Fortunately (for them), Justin, with Catherine's encouragement, found a more peaceful way of dealing with them.
- Airwolf: Don't mess with Stringfellow Hawke's friends. He will personally send you straight to hell.
- Doctor Who:
- As a villain in a new-series episode learned, trying to chain up and experiment on a Dalek is a bad idea. Deciding to capture and torture the Doctor is an even worse one. In fact, the episode "Dalek" is a sort of Take That! to various people who have in a sense bullied the dragon in real life by not taking the Daleks seriously. Characters continually mock the Dalek's seemingly ridiculous appearance including a plunger-like attachment and seeming inability to climb stairs and subsequently end up getting their face sucked off by said plunger or finding out that Daleks can in fact fly.
- According to Dorium the black market dealer in the episode "A Good Man Goes to War", this is what the bad guys are doing by trying to pull one over on The Doctor. Dorium even all but says they are bullying a dragon — specifically he tells them they've pricked a beast but haven't been smart enough to run away from it afterward.
- Anderson and Donovan seem convinced that Sherlock is a psychopath who will one day commit murder in order to assuage his boredom. This doesn't stop them from endlessly taunting and hassling him, which only leads to him humiliating them by utilizing his Sherlock Scan.
- The CIA agent who not only threatened John, but hurt Mrs. Hudson in front of Sherlock, and then let his guard down while frisking him. As Sherlock puts it, he "fell out of a window".
Lestrade: And exactly how many times did he fall out of a window?
Sherlock: It was a bit of a blur, Detective Inspector. I lost count.
- Magnusson knows Mary was an assassin from the CIA, and seems convinced John is the only important person in two lives. Sherlock's life and Mary's, to be exact. He is still convinced that he can make John do what he wants if he doesn't want information on his wife to be released (which could get him killed as well), and also is pretty convinced that if he owns Sherlock, he owns Mycroft, and, if he owns Mary... he owns John, though it's doubtful he knew John was a soldier in the British Army, and has him thrown in a bonfire! Needless to say, it doesn't end well for him. At all.
- Chinese gangster kidnaps John, tells him he is Sherlock, John says he isn't, Sherlock intervenes and goes into full-blown Sherlock Scan mode, then tries to (awesomely) and (genuinely) get his friend out of the bad position-which puts him in a bad position, and Chinese gangster tries to kill him IN FRONT of a certain Retired Badass. Needless to say, the gangster gets killed.
- Throughout the first two seasons, Sherlock constantly slammed Lestrade, Anderson and the rest of the police as a bunch of idiots who couldn't keep up with him and insulting them constantly. Thus, when Moriarty makes it look like Sherlock had been setting all his "crimes" up just to solve them himself, the cops are inclined to agree and John warns Sherlock that every officer he's ever put down is waiting to slap handcuffs on him.
- Sherlock himself does this with tragic results in "The Six Thatchers". After exposing an elderly female civil servant as the traitor in the British secret service, he proceeds to start gloating and insulting her intelligence and lower social class. He's surprised when the person he knew was a ruthless killer linked to espionage pulls out a pistol and shoots at him, whereupon Mary takes the bullet and is killed.
- Suits often features people who really should know better than to try taking on Pearson Hardman. Usually it ends with Harvey or Mike calmly explaining just how badly they're about to be steam-rolled. Season two starts with Mike calmly reciting Trevor's Social Security Number he had read as a child. He then warns that Trevor may have thought he was safe from Mike in the past, but now that they're no longer friends, he should really just back off.
- Jack O'Neill from Stargate SG-1 does this a lot, and often seems to get away with it. Once he even does it while helpless on a torture rack.
- Star Trek: Deep Space Nine:
- In the episode "Profit and Loss", Gul Toran decides to manipulate Garak into doing his dirty work for him (killing the dissident fugitives that are on the station, an act Garak disapproves of) by dangling the carrot of ending Garak's exile in front of him. Once Garak has coralled the dissidents (and Quark who was helping them), Toran intervenes intending to take the sole credit and mocks Garak with the news that Garak's exile will never end and certainly not with any trivial act such as this. Considering Garak was one of the highest ranked agents of the Obsidian Order prior to his exile, which made him one of the most powerful and dangerous men in the whole of Cardassia (and Toran knew this), Toran's attempt to manipulate and then betray Garak was the most foolish, suicidal act of his life. Not only does Garak promptly kill Toran for his audacity, but he then helps the dissidents secure their escape and freedom from Cardassia.
- In the episode "Chimera", two Klingons tried to stab a Changeling. Not only were they attempting to stab a giant amorphous liquid being, the Changeling summoned a sword much larger than knives. Even worse, directly before this incident, the changeling had taken the form of fog which covered the entire promenade. You think he might be a little out of your league, guys?
- Star Trek: Voyager: The episode "Scorpion" features the Borg attempting to assimilate species 8472. Unfortunately for them, 8472 obliterates fifteen Borg cubes in self-defense, prompting the Borg to seek assistance from the USS Voyager.
- In the first episode of Wolfblood, Rhydian loses control and violently attacks Jimmy, demonstrating extreme strength and the willingness to use it. This doesn't stop Jimmy and his friends spending most of the series teasing Rhydian, taunting him, framing him for crimes and, at one point, blackmailing him.
- Spartacus: Blood and Sand
- A loan shark makes several attempts to harass and threaten Batiatus, but Batiatus is usually flanked by one or more famous gladiators who kill on his command.
- Similarly, you don't try to extort Oenomeus.
- Normally, nobody knows that Merlin is a warlock, so this would be Mugging the Monster. However, in his alter-ego Dragoon, everyone knows that he successfully escaped imprisonment and has fought knights before. This doesn't stop the knights from surrounding him and poking him with their swords. He knocks out Gawaine, disarms the rest, and then uses Leon, Percival, and Elyan as stairs to get on his horse. Unsurprisingly, the knights never speak of this again.
- A baffling example occurs in the series finale. In the previous episode, Morgana had been so scared of Merlin's power that she'd trapped him in a cave without his magic. Now that he's visibly recovered his magic, is furious with her, has demonstrated dominion over actual dragons, and he's wielding a sword, she decides to stand a foot away from him, unarmed, and taunt him. That goes about as well as she deserves. It was somewhat justified as Morgana has been slowly slipping into madness over the course of the entire series, and by that point she's far past the point of Villainous Breakdown. Plus, she probably thought Merlin had brought his own sword, and not Excalibur, in which case she would have survived the stabbing.
- Likewise, Nimueh has to trade a life for Arthur's. Naturally, instead of killing some random person in a far-off land whom Merlin would not even know, she picks his mother, and then, when he tries to take it back, his mentor Gaius. She manages to absorb a shot in the resultant Wizard Duel, so naturally she just mocks him and sticks a fireball in his chest. Cue Merlin blowing her up with lightning.
- In Last Resort Julian Serat is a (very) small time warlord of an island. When a nuclear submarine and a team of Navy SEALs arrive on the island, he decides they're disrespecting him and starts making threats. James King, one of the SEALs, is displeased, and lists the order he will kill Serat and his men, where he will shoot each of them, and how many bullets he will use to do so. Serat backs off, but continues to harass them. It's made clear over the course of the series that the crew of the submarine haven't killed Serat because they can't fight his men on the island and the various Navies off the island. King, who isn't with the submarine crew, apparently hasn't killed Serat yet because he doesn't particularly feel like it.
- In the Haven episode "Lockdown", an abusive husband learns that his wife has a dangerous Trouble, the ability to infect others with a dangerous toxin, and he still terrorizes her. Once she gains the courage to stand up to him, he doesn't live much longer.
- In MST3K's Sci Fi Channel seasons, Pearl Forrester kept Bobo (an ape man who considered ripping lions apart a hoot) and Observer (a quasi-omnipotent Reality Warper) — two people who could easily end her if they wanted — through sheer force of will. The fact that neither man is particularly bright and it's funny helps.
- The Winchesters are often guilty of this in Supernatural, such as in the episode "Folsom Prison Blues" (S02, Ep19) when Dean starts making fun of Tiny, a very large prisoner, the day after his friend died. Interesting example, as Dean was actually banking on this reaction at the time as the plan was to start a fight, so to give his brother a distraction long enough to get rid of the ghost that was killing the prisoners. As Dean is a very tough man himself, who regularly tangles with super strong monsters and demons only to come out on top, it's fair to say he probably could have killed Tiny if he needed to, this is more an example of a dragonslayer bullying the dragon.
- Sons of Anarchy: It's amazing how many people seem to think that manipulating, abusing or otherwise pushing around the members and loved ones of a biker gang with enough military-grade hardware to equip a decent-sized mercenary force is a great idea.
- It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia: A frustrated Charlie sees the newly paroled McPoyles drinking at Paddy's:
Charlie: Hey, Liam, sorry I sent you and your brother to jail, but anytime you want to stab me would be great for me!
[Liam stabs him]
Ryan: That's what you get, Charlie! You get forkstabbed!
Charlie: I just got stabbed!
Mac: Well, whose fault is that?
Dennis: You had to make a scene, didn't you, Charlie.
Mac: You had to run your mouth in front of psychopaths.
- In the first episode of Martial Law, a racist cop thinks it will be a good idea to mock and insult Sammo despite hearing that he is the top cop in Shanghai and the senior training officer in martial arts and hand-to-hand combat. Sammo politely shows him how he earned those titles.
- While this trope is common in many classic westerns, The Rifleman is one that plays the trope the straightest. See that big sodbuster over there with the kid? The one that's a full head taller than everyone else in town, carries a custom rifle in one hand, and lugs multiple bags of feed over his shoulder with the other? That man is Lucas McCain, a Civil War veteran reputed to the point of legend for being faster with that rifle than most men with a six-shooter. Once an Episode some bandit or ne'er-do-well would try to bully this man, often by using the people of North Fork or his son Mark against him. The lucky ones lived to wish they hadn't.
- Whether plaintiff or defendant, insulting Judge Judy isn't very smart if you want her to take your side. In fact you have to be very lucky if you don't get kicked out, or immediately lose the trial.
- The entire plot arc in the second season of Orphan Black involving Helena and Pastor Johanssen. It's just about possible that he doesn't know that she's a highly trained and gifted assassin with serious psychological issues, but it's not very plausible given his ties to the people who used to run her. However, whether through megalomania or utterly blinkered sexism, he continues to abuse her and bully other people in front of her throughout the season, even as she obviously becomes increasingly irritated and disgusted, and even though she makes it increasingly clear that she is only putting up with him out of her desire to get pregnant. It finally takes the revelation that he inseminated his own daughter with an embryo he fathered to provoke a cathartic outburst.
- Happens quite often to Lagertha on Vikings. Three times men try to rape her. Each time she kills them.
- Frontier Circus: In "The Inheritance", a group of cowhands decide to pick a fight with a judo master. Who had already wiped the floor with them earlier in the episode.
- Madam Secretary: "Standoff" has a grandstanding Texas governor refuse to hand over a Mexican drugrunner and Cop Killer who was kidnapped from a Mexican jail by a Texan militia, using the whole thing as a big political show. Secretary of State McCord has the Mexican government issue an arrest warrant for the governor, and then threatens to add on about half a dozen federal charges up to and including conspiracy, which would royally screw his presidential hopes. Governor Lockwood just about sets a land speed record backpedaling.
- In season 3 of Hero Corp, you have the bad guy who's chasing Stève, Stan and Burt for having escaped his fighting ring. Sure, they're the most inept superheroes around, but still, he's trying to get the drop on a guy who can shoot acid, and another who can shoot fire, with just a gun. He gets burned.
- A rare heroic version occurs in the finale of Flashpoint where Parker despite being shot several times and having managed to disable the last dirty bomb, takes the time to tell the suspect that their entire plan was undone, that for all their planning, everything they'd done would have been for nothing. After all that the suspect had done in the two-part episode, their fury was wondrous to behold.
- Gotham had Penguin's stepmother and stepsiblings tormenting him endlessly after the death of his father. This was despite the fact they knew he was a supposedly reformed criminal mastermind who had killed many people previously. Oswald eventually snaps and kills them all in a particularly sadistic way, even for him, and they were so awful you don't even blame him.
- Supergirl: In the tie-in comic series, made-of-diamond villain Facet spends months trying to ruin Kara's life until Kara loses patience, takes her to the upper atmosphere and lets her go. Supergirl lampshades how dumb is to taunt someone who can fly:
Supergirl: But here's the thing about messing with people who can fly when you can't... They choose how you land.
- Frontier: Elizabeth Carruthers decides to deliberately antagonize Samuel Grant by having his closest associate arrested after scuppering their deal with the Marquis and then rubbing in his face how pathetic he is despite knowing that this is a man who doesn't shy away from things like murdering his competition. Predictably, he kills her in a frothing rage after she beats him over the head with a candle holder.