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Berserk Button

"Anyone who calls me by that name dies. That is the policy."
Touko Aozaki, Kara no Kyoukai

In short, some characters almost always get enraged when given a certain trigger.

Say you're dealing with a character who seems perfectly normal. He's a nice guy; friendly, sociable, and well-adjusted, saving stray kittens and helping old ladies cross the street on the way to his day job of working at a soup kitchen.

But then you make a mistake. You happen to mention in passing what you think is a fairly innocuous observation, maybe pointing out that he could stand to lose a little weight, or is a little on the short side, or maybe could use a girlfriend, or you do something that you think is no big deal in their presence, like question Who Names Their Kid "Dude"?. And the character instantly goes ballistic, flying into a screaming, frothing, sometimes tearful Unstoppable Rage, from which you will be lucky to escape with your life.

You have just pressed the Berserk Button.

The Berserk Button is one type of Trigger, where the response is one of extreme anger. That is, engaging the trigger turns an ordinary character into The Berserker.

In comedic works, the Berserk Button tends to be a physical feature that the character is insecure or in denial about, like his height. Animals also don't seem to like having their species misidentified. Comedic Berserk Buttons are often used to make an otherwise unflappable character lose his or her cool and go off on a hilarious rant. In cartoons, you can usually tell when a Berserk Button has been hit when the character who has it turns bright red and steam starts shooting out their ears.

In dramatic works, the Berserk Button is often tied to something important about a character; a particularly hated enemy, or a painful failure that hits too Close To Home. Insulting the memory of a dead family member, for example, or pitying someone who insists "Don't You Dare Pity Me!." Many characters, particularly heroes, have a Berserk Button over someone messing with or threatening people they care about. If you're unfortunate enough to hit someone's Berserk Button in a dramatic work, being on the receiving end of a rant is the very least of your worries depending on the situation and the character.

If nearly everything seems to be a person's Berserk Button, they have a Hair-Trigger Temper. For the trope's opposite, see Kindness Button.

For other related tropes, see Anger Tropes, Protective Tropes, Obsession Tropes and Prejudice Tropes.

What's that? You mean to say someone just put in A REAL LIFE EXAMPLE?! WHOEVER IT WAS, HE'S GOING DOWN!


Examples:


Animal Reaction ShotCharacter Reaction IndexBig 'NO!"
Base BreakerInternet BackdraftBroken Base
Bellisario's MaximPt/Índice de TraduçãoBetter Than It Sounds
Bad Mood as an ExcuseAnger TropesEnraged By Idiocy
Arab-Israeli ConflictThis Index Means TroubleChekhov's Gun
Batman GambitJustForFun/Tropes of LegendBeware the Nice Ones
Attractive Bent-GenderOlder Than PrintBeware of Hitchhiking Ghosts
Believing Their Own LiesCharacter Flaw IndexThe Berserker
Bad Mood as an ExcuseYou Wouldn't Like Me When I'm AngryBeware the Nice Ones
Beneath the MaskCharacterization TropesBetty and Veronica
The Bermuda TriangleAdministrivia/No Real Life Examples, Please!Beyond the Impossible
Always Second BestImageSource/Anime & MangaBeware the Silly Ones
Berserk Board BarricadeAdded Alliterative AppealBespectacled Bastard Boyfriend
Tear JerkerOverdosed TropesUp to Eleven

alternative title(s): Real Life
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