"There exists, for everyone, a sentence — a series of words — that has the power to destroy you. Another sentence exists, another series of words, that could heal you. If you're lucky you will get the second, but you can be certain of getting the first."
When one character gives a talk to another that does or is meant to somehow break down the recipient or gain a psychological advantage over them by claiming uncomfortable things that they cannot deny.
Also known as a Breaking Speech or Breaking Lecture. note Mainly so that there's a term that can handily replace "Hannibal Lecture" where editors have used that incorrectly; see below for the difference
This is often achieved by a kind of "The Reason You Suck" Speech, telling the other character how pathetic they are or perhaps how guilty of something terrible, perhaps Not So Different from someone unpalatable, but there are other ways of breaking someone down by talking. You could for example instead deconstruct the world, other characters, or their relationship with the victim. The important part is that they can't deny your words, at least not in the heat of the moment, and you gain a psychological advantage over them. Uncomfortable truths (or at least half-truths) and logical arguments are effective for making claims hard to deny, but hitting emotional weak spots is also important and can work even if your statements are not truly reasonable. Many gay men, especially drag queens, have perfected the Xanatos Speed Chess variation of this called "the read", being able to assess someone quickly and jab them precisely.
Results when successful range from the mere chance of getting to smirk in a satisfied way for rattling someone in an otherwise superior position; through distracting or demoralising an opponent to make them easier to beat; to bringing about Break the Cutie, Heroic BSOD, Villainous Break Down or even Face-Heel Turn, More than Mind Control, or Driven to Suicide. The most extreme form would be Mind Rape by just talking, but be wary of automatically calling every instance of Breaking Them by Talking that.
Obviously, this is easier to pull off from a relative position of power, such as when you have just defeated someone, or when interrogating a prisoner. But it goes both ways, and it's even more impressive when someone manages to turn the tables on someone who was in a superior position. When this is done by one being interrogated— and only then— it's the Hannibal Lecture. Naturally, in between these cases there is the one where both parties start out on an equal footing.
As stated above, there is frequent overlap with "The Reason You Suck" Speech, but the concepts are not the same. "The Reason You Suck" Speech is about what you say, this is about what you do by saying it. You can tell someone they suck without breaking them down or even intending to do so, particularly if you're just annoyed, and you can break someone down without telling them why they suck.
The distilled version of this is the Armor-Piercing Question. If the declarations used as a weapon come from simple clues, this is a form of Sherlock Scan. Some characters have the ability to do this as a superpower, which may be an example of Awesome by Analysis. Can be done as part of Evil Gloating. Shut Up, Hannibal! is a way of countering this trope. The opposite effect is done by a "World of Cardboard" Speech, when the hero tells about his own flaws and how they don't matter now. The reverse or "good counterpart" is the Kirk Summation or Talking the Monster to Death. Hannibal Lecture is a specific subtrope.
For examples of literally breaking someone by talking, see Weapons-Grade Vocabulary or Make Me Wanna Shout.
See also: To the Pain, Talking Your Way Out, Just Between You and Me, And Then What?, Verbal Judo.
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Anime and Manga
In Dragon Ball Z, Goku does this to Freeza during their battle on Namek. After having ascended to the level of a Super Saiyan and smacking around the now fully-powered Big Bad, he abruptly decides that their battle is done. When a shocked Freeza demands to know what he means by that, Goku's response makes the killer of the Saiyan race and former #1 fighter in the universe (at least at the time) go through a mini-breakdown:
Goku: "Your power level is decreasing with every blow. You're not even a challenge to me anymore. It wouldn't be fair for me to keep fighting you. I'm satisfied now. Your pride has been torn to shreds. You've challenged and lost to a fighter who is superior to you...and to make it worse, "he was just a monkey," right?" Freeza is seething in anger, shocked and enraged at Goku's words Goku: "It would be meaningless to fight you now; you're too scared and ashamed. Live with the shock. Keep it bottled up inside of you... silently."
Super Buu gives one to Gohan using the knowledge of Piccolo to break him down emotionally. If it weren't for Goku's intervention, he would been killed after that verbal assault.
Fate, The Woobie of Lyrical Nanoha, is talked into a small coma by her mother, Precia Testarossa. She breaks so badly it renders her literally catatonic for a brief period, and for good reason; her Mother was, aside from Arf, the only person who had ever loved her.
In Code Geass, Mao uses a Breaking Speech and his Geass-induced psychic powers to perform More than Mind Control on Shirley Fenette. She's so badly damaged that Lelouch must erase himself from her memories via Geass.
Mao tries this again to avoid arrest by Suzaku a couple episodes later, violating his sanity by reading his mind and taunting him with such knowledge. With Shirley's More than Mind Control and Nunnally's hostage situation still fresh in his mind and Mao's visor knocked off by Suzaku prior to the Mind Rape, Lelouch had a clear shot to Geass Mao into a Fate Worse than Death.
Mao" "So that's how you justify it in retrospect? You're nothing but a spoiled brat!" Lelouch:Mao!(activates Geass) Mao: "SHIT!" Lelouch: "NEVER SPEAK AGAIN!"
In Monster, this is one of Johan Liebert's specialities. He actually drives people to suicide with it.
#66, Barry The Chopper, makes 14 year old Alphonse Elric question his own existence with one of these by telling him that Ed might have faked Al's memories and that Alphonse Elric NEVER existed. It's only after Winry hits Al with a wrench and points out that no one would sacrifice an arm for a fake brother that Al figures out that he's the real Al.
This changes somewhat in the 2003 anime version; here, it takes Alphonse an episode which involves a pep talk from Scar and Ed telling what him what he really meant to say to him to snap him out of it.
And Solf J. Kimblee. He actually delivers a Breaking Speech with a rare positive benefit (an inversion?) during the Ishvalan genocide. Both Roy and Riza were telling themselves that they really didn't have any choice but to take part in war crimes. Kimblee utterly shreds those ideas apart ("When you shoot a man, do you not feel even the slightest bit of pride for a job well done?"), forcing them to take responsibility and realize that they're Not So Different. The end result is Roy and Riza plotting to take down the military government to prevent such a genocide from ever happening again.
What's interesting is that Kimblee is a very smart psychopath with a flair for messing with people's heads and an apparent gift for considering himself the rational one in any given collision of philosophies. And he also comes out in the same speech with gem lines like:
Kimblee: "Don't avert your eyes from death. Look forward. Look the people you're killing in the face. And don't forget them. Don't forget. Don't forget. They won't forget you either." Kimblee:(later on while fighting Alphonse, he questions why Alphonse doesn't simply use the Philosopher's Stone to get his original body back, and following Al's response?) "I see. So if you can discover an exception to the rule, you can effectively rewrite the laws of nature as we understand them. Is that how it's supposed to go? Because there is another possibility you know... you don't get your bodies back and you don't save everyone. That could certainly happen."
Pride later gives Edward one during their brief fight. It didn't endwell for Pride though.
In the 2003 anime, episode #49, Dante attempts this on Edward by stating that the law of equivalancy is 'a lie meant to comfort the oppressed and make children do their lessons'. She seems very determined to prove her point , even going so far as threatening to kill a helpless infant to demonstrate to him that even the most strenuous efforts (in this case, the infant crying for help) can get you nothing in return.
The truly impressive thing about this is that Dante takes the idea of Equivalent Exchange and deconstructs it, revealing that while impressive and accurate in theory, the law of Equivalent Exchange is very flawed, especially when one attempts to apply it outside of Alchemy. While someone may put in everything they've got to achieve something, what they receive will not always be of equal value to what has been given. Ed rejects this view instead of letting it get to him.
Pain from Naruto gets in on this and uses it on Naruto. It works.
It didn't convince Naruto to give up, but instead he decides to try and prevent the conditions which causes someonelike Pain to exist. Before that Pain gave one to Tsunade about the big villages not caring if they hurt the smaller ones. She's not convinced and claims that even the big villages suffer. Not to be outdone, Pain's response was to crush the village.
Neji gives one to Hinata during the chuunin exams, causing her to have a breakdown on the spot. It took Naruto to snap her out of it. Not that it helped her much, because in the ensuing fight he delivers such a beatdown that she almost gets killed.
Verbally, Hinata still gets the last word in when she tells Neji that he's the one hopelessly fighting fate and not her.
Naruto also receives one of these from Yami Naruto in chapter 493. We don't see the end of it, but it's enough, combined with an inability to defeat his opponent in combat, to make Naruto start to seriously doubt his own morality. Naruto seems really vulnerable to these, doesn't he? This particular lecture verges on Mind Rapebecause Yami Naruto was a manifestation of all of Naruto's personal insecurities. He'd never had an answer for these doubts before but had ignored them; Yami forced Naruto to face them.
The Kyuubi attempted this a few times with Naruto in Shippuden, but each time was interrupted by, in order of appearance, Sasuke, Minato, and finally by Naruto himself, who shut it up accordingly.
Obito keeps bringing up Kakashi's greatest regrets, such as his obsession with the Memorial Stone. This is before we find out Tobi is Obito. Later Obito brings up Kakashi's broken promise with the intent to make Kakashi lose the will to fight him, since without Kakashi they have no chance of winning... and it works. Kakashi freezes, moments away from a complete breakdown, without Gai to snap him out of it like last time.
In a flashback, Madara tells Obito, after saving him, that the world sucks and he can't go back to being a ninja in his condition, with the intent of getting him to help complete the Moon's Eye Plan. It doesn't work at first, but after witnessing Rin's death Obito remembers Madara Uchiha's words and decides he was right. Ironically enough, later on Obito (posing as Madara) gives the same speech to Nagato.
Tobi gives another one to Naruto himself after Neji and many others die from his Wood Release Technique. He says Naruto can't protect his comrades, and with so many close to him dead and the others bound to follow, he should join them and abandon reality. It almost works until Hinata restores Naruto's resolve.
Anti-Hero Saito Hajime from Rurouni Kenshin can do this to any villain in sight, (or anyone who just rubs him the wrong way) and he barely has to pause his beatdowns to give his lectures. Watsuki, (the mangaka who created Kenshin), bemoaned the fact that evil characters he created with the intention of being Terminator-like and tough fights for Saito were inevitably broken down into pieces and looked like weaklings after they actually fought Saito.
The granddaddy of Saito's lectures comes against Usui, where he delivers no less than three during their Duel to the Death. The final one is given with a dying Usui is pinned to the wall by Satio's sword and Saito proceeds to give him a classic "The Reason You Suck" Speech.
He may be a master at it, but he's not above receiving as well: Right before Sano goes to Kyoto, they fight. Again, Saito wins but at the very end of the fight, after Saito call him a chick, he gets something like this:
"I may be a chick right now, but I bet you and Kenshin were not that strong in the beginning."
Kenshin is not above doing this as well. In the manga, Kenshin's lecture to Raijuta about his misguided ideals of swordsmanship destroyed him far more than any of his attacks did. He even tells Sano that any further physical pain would be useless at this point.
"His confidence is gone. He'll never recover as swordsman."
In Bleach, during The Reveal, Aizen delivers a several chapter long lecture to Ichigo, completely paralyzing him. Until Komamura attacks Aizen in a rage at his betrayal.
Aizen's response: cut off Komamura, then continue, until everyone shows up. But by then, he already finished all he said.
Repeated again during the Fake Karakura Town arc with not one, not two, but several, to the Vizards (making Hiyori Half The Woman She Used To Be) for the entire chapter, several pages long for Ichigo before Komamura pulls a Shut Up, Hannibal!, then giving more lectures to everyone else, especially Hitsugaya, while crossing swords with them (ends when they became so enraged they all fall), then another one to Yamamoto (forcing the old man to sacrifice himself), before CONTINUING his lecture toward Ichigo. Face it, Aizen's lecture can only end either when he finishes, or when you get killed while trying to shut him up.
Aizen's not the only one. In Chapter 404, we got Gin of all people giving Ichigo yet another lecture, including the line, "I thought you were better than that, but you're still a child." Many probably felt that that issue needed to be addressed by now (He's what, 15-16?) Better yet, he then proceeds to attack with another Shinso power before Ichigo can reply.
Gin also cruelly broke Rukia's resolve with words, telling her he would save her from being executed before revealing that he was "just kidding". The poor girl is reduced to a screaming wreck, and with good reason.
Kenpachi Zaraki also gives one to Ichinose after Ichinose told Zaraki all that he wished to accomplish. It doesn't impress Kenpachi one bit and attacks back with the fact that he's had those goals put into his mind by his new master, Kariya, and by disobeying his orders by fighting Kenpachi instead of stopping Ichigo and the others Ichinose has never really cared about Kariya's ambition's and all he ever really wanted was revenge against Kenpachi for killing his captain.
In the final arc, As Nodt delivers one to Byakuya while under the effects of his power, The Fear. It causes Byakuya to rush forward with no thought, but it sadly gets him beaten to a coma.
In an inversion, it's Amuro giving one to Char during the events of Char's Counterattack, waxing on about how philosophers and idealists with plans to change the world become disillusioned when things don't change as quickly as they'd like them to. It, along with the fight that followed it were meant to be the final nails in the rivalry between the two by showing Amuro had surpassed Char in nearly every way.
Durarara!!: Izaya delivers one to Kida in the third arc.
And at the beginning of the series, he gave another one to Rio Kamichika, almost driving her to commit suicide.
In Chapter 74 of Soul Eater the Envy Chapter of the Book of Eibon delivers a harsh one to Maka. It's enough to reduce her to tears.
This seems to be a popular tactic among demons in general in Chrono Crusade, but particularly with the Big Bad, Aion. Two notable examples are in the manga, when two demons corner Chrono in a dark warehouse and proceed to rattle off a list of his crimes, and in the anime with Aion's first appearance, where he lectures everyone as a supernatural fog rolls in.
Akito's modus operandi in Fruits Basket. Sure, he punctuates it with physical abuse every now and then, but he breaks most of the Juunishi simply by telling them the exact things that they don't want to hear.
Done in Fairy Tail when Erza fights her Edolas counterpart, Erza Knightwalker. In the final bout of their fight. Knightwalker argues how all their actions have been for the sake of keeping magic in their world in order to save it (though said magic come from the living beings from Erza's world). Erza counters that the two are still fighting long after their magic power had run out and that losing magic won't be the end of their world and they can still survive. This gets through to Knightwalker who then admits defeat.
In Slayers NEXT, Gaav questions Amelia when she attempts to attack him. Amelia stops for some seconds, confused by his words, so Gaav attacks her instead and Zelgadis is badly injured when he performs a Diving Save and shields Amelia with his own body.
In Episode 37 of Mobile Suit Gundam SEED, Flay Alister manages to get a gun on Big Bad Rau Le Creuset. Instead of disarming her, he proceeds to deliver a downright vicious Breaking Lecture that destroys her will to fight. To wit:
Rau: "If you shoot me right here, you will die within moments. The soldiers will shoot you. If that doesn't suit you, your only other option would be to point that gun at yourself and pull the trigger. The gun is loaded, I presume. On the battlefield, life is cheap; it's lost in an instant. But still, people fight for their country; for justice. However, none of that suits you. You may be wearing a military uniform, but you're no soldier. Am I wrong?"
And then the Stockholm Syndrome kicks in, and Flay starts thinking of Rau like a father, even though by that point she's still a Coordinator-hater who can't forgive them for killing the father that Rau is a sort-of stand-in for in her mind. This is because, by that point. the girl is stuck in a hostile environment, surrounded by enemies, and it is only Rau's protection that is keeping her alive. And it's not helped by how his voice is VERY similar to her dad's.
He attempts this twice with Kira in the final, the first time Rau deconstructs Kira in every way, painting him as a mistake who's very existence is nothing but a blight on mankind, him being the 'ultimate' coordinator. As Rau continues to convince Kira that nobody understands or accepts him, Kira's concentration slips further and further, allowing Rau to press forward and slowly destroy his METEOR support unit. After killing Flay though, she comes to him in a sort of vision to comfort him and dismiss his doubts, renewing his resolve. After Kira is able to reengage him, Rau attempts to rant at Kira again about how humans all suck and are going to kill themselves it one way or another; and Kira is evil and his friends are all evil and Rau's plan to genocide the human race is exactly what everyone wants...to which Kira responds with variations of "No" "Shut up" or "You're wrong." He fails to actually counter any of Rau's points let alone get him to change his opinion, but Kira continues to tear Rau's Gundam apart piece by piece without hesitating for a second while Rau tries in vain to convince him he should just give up, let Rau kill him, and let everyone die.
Rey tries this on Kira in Destiny, but Kira promptly turns in on him by telling Rey that he's not doomed to be Rau simply because he's a clone, and that he is his own person, which pretty much kills Rey's will to fight and belief that Durandal's way is the only way. Athrun's "You're killing the future" speech to Shinn doesn't exactly work out as he's intended as it simply makes Shinn totally lose it and go frothing mad, trying to kill Athrun and trying to cut down Luna when she (seeing Shinn's losing himself to anger breaking her heart) tried to calm him down. However it still allows Athrun to win because Shinn is so angry he can no longer fight properly, focused so hard on killing Athrun he leaves himself totally open.
Kyuutarou Ooba from Kemonozume uses a Breaking Lecture as a last gambit after being decapitated, dismembered and finally eaten alive, flying the protagonist into the freezing depths of outer space while scolding him on believing that there's any goodness in humanity. The protagonist replies with his last ounce of consciousness by screaming a denial and ripping off Ooba's wings, sending them both plummeting back down to earth.
An interesting variation at the end of the Kyoto Arc, when the arc's Dirty Coward antagonist gets chased down by Chachazero, who delivers such a frightening Breaking Speech that the antagonist faints from fear.
In Mobile Suit Gundam: The 08th MS Team, after having his Gundam temporarily knocked out by an enemy ace, Shiro rips off its damaged arm and attempts to beat said ace's mobile suit with it while shouting over an open comm channel at him. When he mentions his feelings for Aina, the ace is surprised long enough that Shiro manages to bash him in the face and damage his suit's sensors.
A Certain Magical Index: Kuroko delivers an one to Awaki during their battle in Volume 7 (season 2 of the anime). It basically amounts to a Reason You Suck Speech that utterly breaks Awaki: She suffers a huge Villainous Breakdown... and loses control of her teleporter powers, nearly collapsing the entire building on Kuroko while she escapes.
Yuuta in the anime adaptation of Chuunibyou Demo Koi ga Shitai! gives one to Sanae at the end of episode 11 after she berates him for not supporting Rikka's delusions, forcing her to admit that for all her delusions, she's never been able to fight a monster or summon a weapon, and that delusions like that are pointless in the long run.
What drove Yukime to go Murder the Hypotenuse on Ritsuko in Hell Teacher Nube, something that she'd never ever think of doing in normal circumstances, was being at the receiving end of a very nasty one from her father's lackey in whuich he constantly questioned the very core of her existence and reasons to live.
In X1999, at least the manga, Satsuki Yatoji breaks Yuzuriha Nekoi into nigh-catatonia by explaining why she thinks killing people is alright. She then proceeds to put theory into practice and it takes a Heroic Sacrifice by Inuki to save Yuzuriha.
One Piece Donquixote Doflamingo delivers a memorable one during the Marineford Arc which even shakes notions of the Shōnen genre.
Toru Nanamine gives one to his editor in Bakuman。, preying on his confidence issues and inexperience by telling him that he's not more intelligent than the 50 consultants he has and threatening to go elsewhere and put his editor's career in jeopardy if he refuses to go along with his plan as the 51st correspondent.
A particularly enlightening example in Is This a Zombie?, Ayamu is facing off with the King of the Night and we get this:
King of the Night: "You only just met her. What could you possibly understand?"
Ayamu: "That's right. That's why you piss me off. You've known her for a lot longer, but you refuse to understand her!" (Proceeds to beat the everliving crap out of the King of the Night at 800%)
Ayamu: "Have you ever seen her adorable smile?!"
King of the Night:"Her smile?"'
Ayamu: "Do you know how she smiles when she's having fun? Do you know Yuu's favourite food? Do you know how Yuu feels every day of her life? She didn't ask to be born a necromancer. All she can do is live life to the fullest. I won't let someone who's given up on life say he understands her!"
Guy: "The reason you tried to seal off GGG... the reason you couldn't come close to the G-Crystal... the reason you isolated GaoFighGar... the reason why you didn't come to directly attack our Earth... it's all because you feared us! The G-Stone's power can only grow and surpass the power of the Loud G-Stone! This is the energy BORN FROM COURAGE!" Palparepa: "WHAT HAS AGODTO FEAR?!"
In The Idolmaster 2 The World Is All One, Hibiki is subject to this after a 961 Pro employed show manager goes on a tirade about how she has ruined the TV program by not alerting her fellow idol unit members that they were supposed to come with her. Unaware that she was tricked into coming alone, Hibiki can only stammer excuses and apologies until she begins crying. Thankfully her Producer arrives and promptly turns the tables on the lying executive.
In Yu Gi Oh Zexal, Tron combined this with a Not So Different theme, trying to convince Yuma that he was actually working towards the same goal he was - trying to gain revenge on Dr. Faker - claiming his father had sent Astral to Earth in order to destroy it. (Whether Tron truly believed this claim is unclear, but what would make this so horrible, if true, is that it would suggest that Kazuma Tsukumo was just as sadistic as Tron was, which is pretty sadistic). The amazing thing is, that while Yuma refused to believe this, Astral was nearly convinced for a minute or two. (It wasn't the first time he had doubted the benign intentions of his purpose, seeing as he had amnesia.)
The Marvel Comics character Karnak has refined his powers to the point where he can do this. At first his power was just sensing the weak point in objects so he (or his stronger ally Gorgon) can smash it. Now he find personality flaws and verbally destroy an opponent.
Emma Frost of the X-Men is incredibly good at this. A great example of this can be found when after finding Kimura sneaking around the X-Mansion getting ready to kill X-23, Emma goes up to her and says...
Emma: "Do you ever wonder why you take such pleasure from abusing a little girl who can't hurt you, let alone defeat you? No, I thought not. You'll notice that you cannot move. I've shut down all your motor control so you can listen while I enlighten you. You are a bully, plain and simple. A product of your past. Being kicked around your whole life by an alcoholic father and an uncaring mother at home, only to find the same waiting for you from your peers in the schoolyard, day in and day out. You were born into a life you did not deserve... a life no child deserves... Someone needs to fill the role of victim and you played that part for so many... until your grandmother came to your rescue. But sadly she came too late. All the hope and good you held onto was beaten out of you long ago. After your grandmother's heart attack, you found your way to the Facility to the men that could give you what you wanted so badly... Revenge. A hollow prize, but one you begged for and once you'd gotten the best of those who wronged you, you became the very person you hated and feared growing up. And X-23 played the role of your victim. Like you, Laura didn't deserve that horrible life. No child does, remember? But you didn't care. Even though you know all too well the pain she suffered, you enjoyed inflicting it. You still enjoy it. That's why you're a bully."
Every one of Batman's enemies has tried it. As an action hero, he's immune, but some writers have played it as the villain being right. In the animated series, The Joker, master manipulator that he is, convinces a meek psychoanalyst named Harleen Quinzel to go crazy and fall in love with him; she becomes Harley Quinn. During the montageflashback that gives this backstory, they even trade places — he in the chair, she on the couch — in several of the analysis scenes.
In the one shot comic Mad Love as well as the episode of Batman: The Animated Series based on it, Batman does this to the Joker, manipulating him into freeing him from Harley Quinn's otherwise inescapable trap then taunting him about how she'd come closer to killing him than the Joker had ever managed.
Joker also gives Batman one in The Killing Joke, in which his plot is to drive Commissioner Gordon insane the same way he was. When Batman shows up to stop him, Joker gives him a long speech about how Batman is just as crazy as Joker is, and how the world is too hopelessly absurd for anyone to stay sane in. Batman powers through it, and, noting that Gordon was not driven mad, says that maybe Joker was the only one who couldn't take it. However, at the end, it becomes clear that Batman finds at least some truth in Joker's notion that they were both insane or, at least, absurd beings.
Subverted in Brian Azzarello's Joker graphic novel, in which the Joker tries this on Batman - only to have Batman not only demolish it, but turn it into a devastating taunt right back with just three words:
Joker: "Uhh, God you disgust me. You have no charm at all, just... obviousness. Dumb, dull. Disappointing. Obvious. Shame on you. Obvious... and everybody knows. You wear your shame like a badge, because you don't have the balls to actually pin one on. Yes, just look at you. Desperate to be feared, you want to be perceived as a monster, dressed in black. And yet... you leave that little window. A glimpse at the perfection underneath. Obvious—the chiseled good looks, not the jaw, the mouth of a monster... why do you let it be seen? Tell me why." Batman: "To mock you."
In Death Of The Family, when Batman goes to confront Joker at the Ace Chemical Plant, he find Joker wearing the red hood. Joker launches into this trope by saying that having an network of allies has made Batman soft and weak, and that Joker would be doing Batman a favour by getting rid of them. Batman ends up pulling off the hood to reveal Harley Quinn instead! And he continues to do this constantly throughout the story arc to all of the members of the Bat-Family in order to shake their trust in Batman and break up the Family. And it works.
Actually Averted earlier in the same issue, Superman is perfectly willing to debate with Luthor as a way of peacefully addressing their problems (as opposed to the more violent way suggested by Brainiac). Before Luthor can open his mouth, Brainiac wraps him up in tentacles and drags him away, pointing out how a man of Luthor's intellect could've conceivably pulled this.
A recent issue of Superman features a supervillain, Atlas, attempting to deliver such a lecture to Krypto the Superdog, after having delivered an almighty smackdown to Superman and caused him to temporarily withdraw, leaving Krypto the only one left to make a stand. Unfortunately for Atlas it doesn't work, for the same reason that it probably wouldn't work if you tried to verbally undermine a dog's sense of self-confidence with a lecture in real life.
In Eternals (or at least the Neil Gaiman revival), there is a character whose power is the ability to know just what to say to make a certain person break. When he first discovers this power, he manages to make a cop attempting to keep him in an embassy for questioning pass out with just a few words.
Druig: "Yes. Tell me, is it the SLIME of the tentacles that upsets you, or the way they twine bonelessly, the faceless snaking of them... Does it remind you of the way your brother forced a rubber toy into your infant mouth, CHOKING you, the wet, the..."
In Global Frequency #8 Miranda Zero is kidnapped by a terrorist who tries to do this to her. She does it right back to him with rather more success.
Zero: "Maybe you could rape me. That'd make you a real man. Do you think I'm scared of pain? Three years ago in Haiti, a cell of ex-Tonton Macoute fired a nail gun through my right thigh. Five years ago, radical white separatists in Maine painted an eagle on my back in paint-stripper gel. Last March Russian black marketeers took bolt cutters to my breasts. Understand, you don't frighten me. Your stupid little hands and your thing with the gun do not frighten me. You are ignorant and gutless and you do not frighten me."
Sin City: Poor John Hartigan gets it twice. The first time comes from Senator Roark who explains that Hartigan will be framed for his son's crimes and there is not a thing he can do about it. The second is from Detective Liebowitcz who chides him on being a clean cop. Both of these lectures are so that Hartigan will sign a confession... which he doesn't.
In V for Vendetta, V does it to Lewis Prothero with elaborate props, reminding him of his role at the Larkhill concentration camp, revealing that he, V, was the man from room five, and finishing up by driving him insane by burning up his precious collection of dolls in the ovens in his replica of the camp.
Moon Knight villain "The Profile" is a profiler who uses his mutant observation powers to instantly size people up. He is also a Jerk Ass who likes to give Breaking Speeches to people for fun.
The Profile: Hey, old man. I almost forgot something. That whole thing about abandoning your family and your wife dying alone and your son becoming a serial killer? You're right. It was all your fault.
In Watchmen, the Comedian gives one to Dr. Manhattan, in a flashback scene in Chapter 2. The Comedian gunned down his pregnant Vietnamese girlfriend after she slashed his face. He points out how Dr. Manhattan did nothing to stop him, proving he no longer cares about humanity.
Sakki, The Hate Furnace, delivered one to Supergirl. He mistakenly believed that she was Superman's daughter and picked at her shame at failing to live up to Superman's example. Sakki and his partner, Gakidou, were also emotion eaters, so Supergirl's despair and other negative emotions served to make them stronger. Unfortunately for them, she became so angry that they nearly overloaded, and they found out the hard way that their extra strength isn't nearly enough to deal with a Kryptonian.
It's a popular tactic of the Black Lanterns in the Blackest Night event, in an attempt to get their victim to show emotions so their heart can be ripped out and themselves added to the Black Lanterns.
In one issue of his comic, Wolverine has been imprisoned by the unusual method of throwing him in a pit and shooting him constantly so he'll be too busy healing to escape and he still manages to verbally break down the guy with the gun, who eventually lets Wolverine escape in the expectation that Wolverine will kill him.
Backfires spectacularly in the My Little Pony fanfic Duel Nature - after getting dragged into a sparring match against Luna, Twilight Sparkle is too stubborn to give up (which, due to Luna's insensitive behaviour would be humiliating at this point) and tries psychological warfare to weaken her opponent's concentration. Taunting the princess over her insecurities does distract her to the point that some of her shields dissipate. Unfortunately, it also enrages her to the point where the spar becomes a Duel to the Death, breaks through the wards that protect the audience and in the end nearly levels the building.
“Look, what the hell is it you want from me?! Is it forgiveness? You may as well hit the road, because that’s never going to happen. Do you seriously think I’m okay? You nearly killed me, do you understand that? Why the hell would I ever forgive you for that? I’m not the goddamned Pope. I don’t have to grant you a tabula rasa just because you only almost ruined my whole goddamn life. And you’re seriously telling me that this isn’t even the first time that this has happened? You go to a school for the disabled and you just, what, ignored a dozen warnings? What kind of freaking idiot are you? Yes, you’re remorseful. Good for you. I don’t give a damn. How are you any different from a drunk driver who only feels bad after he finally spins out and ''murders'' half a family? And, yes, I’m not dead, thanks for noticing, though maybe you’ve knocked ten years off my life, for all I even know. And that’s not even mentioning the concussion you gave me, thanks for that. And I didn’t tell the school to do a single goddamn thing, so don’t blame me for whatever they did. Sorry, not my problem. You should have thought of that before you went sprinting through the halls. You want me to feel better? You want to make things right? You can start by getting out of my life. God knows it’s short enough already without you in it! What the hell are you waiting for? Get out. Get! Out!"
The main character/Big Bad of the fanfic Evangelion 2.50: You Will (Not) Survive pulls one in the final confrontation with Shinji. Said Big Bad reveals to Shinji that his successes have been merely due to support from better, stronger people, and that he is nothing by himself but a leech. It would have worked, too, if not for intervention from Misato.
In Forward's first "episode", River delivers one of these to Niska's henchman Volsky, and while doing so informs Niska that Volsky was about to betray him. Niska promptly has him executed on the spot, allowing Jayne to snatch Volsky's knife and use to free himself.
"How amusing. You're not even a real human. All you are is just a computer brain using a human as a meat puppet. That body isn't the real you. It never was. You honestly believe she would love you, anyway? After all you've done to her. She could never love you. You're nothing but a pathetic moron living a lie."
In A Growing Affection, Hinata demands to know why Kabuto saved her during the Chunin finals (from canon):
"The truth?" (Kabuto) said seriously, his eyes hidden by the sheen of his glasses, "It was for my pride. There you were, the first daughter of the vaunted Hyuga clan. And even though the best and brightest of the Leaf Ninja Medical Corps had had over a month to fix you, all they could do was delay the inevitable. And in five minutes, I was able to diagnose and repair the damage Neji did to your heart. I wanted to show them how weak and ineffectual they were. I helped you, to prove that I was superior. That's all."
In the Transformers fanfic A Child Shall Lead Them, Unicron pulls this on Pterodactus Prime (formerly known as Swoop) during his Leave Your Quest Test, trying to turn him against the Autobots. He almost breaks him, but when Unicron tries to bring the other Dinobots into it he goes too far…
In Stars Above, Desideria is an expert at this. She uses her powers to read her victims' minds, then turns their greatest flaws and insecurities against them.
Veran: Do you know what I hate most about you, hero? That persistent little spirit of yours. The fact that you can live through things that would destroy others emotionally completely unscarred. But even so, everyone has a breaking point... And... I believe you've just recached yours...
In Diaries Of A Madman, Nav does this to Pinkie Pie, to pay her back for taking advantage of him.
In Dirty Sympathy, Winston Payne tells Klavier about the bet the Prosecution Office has about the latter's departure and the precedence of prosecutors leaving after a personal case.
Kung Fu Panda 2: Lord Shen, when Po confronts him in the foundry and demands to know what he knows about his past. Shen cruelly lies to him, telling him that his parents abandoned him and didn't love him, which distracts Po long enough for Shen to get the upper hand and nearly kill him.
Lecter also provides, in both the film and the book, perhaps the ultimate form of this trope, when, trapped in a cell, he convinces the guy in the cell next to him to commit suicide just by talking through the bars.
There are several other instances where he pulls off the trope. In Hannibal, he managed to convince a drugged-up Mason Verger to cut off his face and feed it to the dogs (and Mason even mentions later that it 'seemed like a really good idea at the time' and in the movie he casually suggests to Verger's tortured physician to just 'push him in (a pit full of man-eating pigs) and tell them I did it'. Three guesses what happens immediately afterwards.
In Hannibal Rising, Grutas (the main non-protagonist villain) manages to do it to the young Lecter when at his mercy; it hardly improves his position, but it certainly has an impact on the other. He claims that Lecter isn't hunting him and a number of others down because they ate his sister to keep from starving but because they know that he ate some of it, too.
Collateral is one long speech like this by assassin Vincent to his hostage Max which backfires towards the end.
The Dark Knight: The Joker here excels at these speeches; some are Hannibal Lectures (see there), others aren't. One that is this trope is the nihilistic speech to the scarred, disillusioned and currently helpless Harvey Dent about how chaotic the world is, convincing Dent to do a Face-Heel Turn and become Two-Face.
Batman finally returns the favor at the end of the movie.
Batman: You think, deep down, everyone is as ugly as you? You're alone! [...] This city is filled with people ready to believe in good.
Richard Nixon attempts to do this to his interviewer in Frost/Nixon with a late night phone call, but as his drunken ramblings progress, all his Not So Different lines only end up revealing how broken and full of self-loathing he is. Frost doesn't even need to say Shut Up, Hannibal! — he now knows that all he needs to do is corner Nixon and the man will destroy himself.
His speech to Morpheus in the first movie is the most memorable:
Smith: I'd like to share a revelation I've had during my time here. It came to me when I tried to classify your species. I realized that you're not actually mammals. You see, every mammal on this planet instinctively develops a natural equilibrium with their surrounding environment-but you humans do not. You move to an area and you multiply and multiply until every natural resource is consumed. The only way you can survive is to spread to another area. There is another organism on this planet that follows the same pattern. Do you know what it is? A virus. Human beings are a disease, a cancer of this planet. You're a...plague. And we are the cure.
He delivers another one in the third movie as he watches Neo struggling to get back up after a royal thrashing - except Neo is barely listening to him and it just shows how Smith's mental state is crumbling.
Smith: Why, Mr. Anderson? Why, why? Why do it? Why, why get up? Why keep fighting? Do you believe you're fighting for something, for more than your survival? Can you tell me what it is? Do you even know? Is it freedom, or truth, perhaps peace, could it be for love? Illusions, Mr. Anderson, vagaries of perception! Temporary constructs of a feeble human intellect trying desperately to justify an existence without meaning or purpose! And all of it as artificial as the Matrix itself! Although, only a human mind could invent something as insipid as love! You must see it, Mr. Anderson, you must know it by now; you can't win, it's pointless to keep fighting! Why, Mr. Anderson, why? Why do you persist?!
In Return of the Jedi, Emperor Palpatine focuses his full powers of charm and scheming to break and turn Luke. Luke is in the throne room along with Palpatine and Vader while the Rebel Alliance and all his friends are about to be destroyed - all, it turns out, according to Palpatine'splans. Palpatine's expositing this eventually drives Luke into attacking the unarmed emperor (as intended), only to be stopped by Vader, and soon Vader's threat to go after his sister finally drives Luke into an Unstoppable Rage that almost pushes him to the Dark Side. However, he has a moment of clarity just before killing Vader, and rejects the Obviously Evil Palpatine's offer to become his new apprentice.
Loki, Big Bad of The Avengers, uses this against the heroes constantly, in keeping with his comic and mythological characterizations. The heroes seem to be aware of this, as he's muzzled when they capture him at the end.
Star Trek: Generations. Dr. Soran, an El-Aurian, shows what happens when one of the "race of listeners" use their extremely profound insight to harm than help.
Soran: They say time is the fire in which we burn. Right now, Captain, my time is running out. We leave so many things unfinished in our lives... I know you understand.note Picard had just confessed to Troi that his brother and nephew burned to death in a fire. He then told her he started to wonder about the lack of any sort of legacy for the Picard family, and the realization of his own mortality.
Austin Powers the original movie: Dr. Evil (while running away) tries to convince Austin that he's become a "square" and that the 90s doesn't have free love. Austin counters that the 60s were about freedom, only now it's joined by responsibility and that's even groovier. Evil destroys freedom, so he's still fighting the same fight. Then Dr. Evil points out that there's nothing more annoying an old hippie who refuses to get with the times. That gets Austin's back up.
Dogma, in one of its opening scenes, features Loki (Matt Damon) explains to a nun how he didn't believe in God due to the story of the Walrus and the Carpenter, successfully making her question and eventually throw away her faith...in a span of five minutes. As noted by his fellow angel Bartleby (Ben Affleck), "You know for a fact that there's a God. You've stood in his presence. You've spoken to him personally. Yet I just heard you claim you were an atheist." Loki's response? "I just like fucking with the clergy, man! I just — I love keeping those guys on their toes!"
There's also the board room scene, where Bartleby reveals all but one woman's sins. All their reactions range from looking down with shame to breaking down into tears.
Salieri's confession in Amadeus turns into one of these. By the end, with his closing lines about mediocrity, the priest is too shell-shocked to administer the sacrament (though Salieri was obviously unrepentant for his sins, so the conditions for the sacrament were clearly not fulfilled anyway).
Ocean's Twelve, where Isabel Lahiri, a Europol agent, has taken an informant named Matsui into custody in order to find out more information about the protagonists' upcoming heist. Matsui calmly endures the "bad cop" type interrogation (also unheard) by another Europol agent with an indifferent smirk. Then walks in Isabel, while the previous interrogator telling his partner that nothing will break this guy. Cue Lahiri telling Matsui a few words in the interrogation room, and the informant visibly collapses and grabs the pen to write a confession.
In Star Trek: Into Darkness, Harrison gives multiple speeches deconstructing Kirk and Spock's motivations and character flaws. Several of these are similar to Khan's monologues from "Space Seed" and The Wrath of Khan in tone, though avoid any direct references.
In Act of Valor, Senior Chief breaks Christo, the leader of the drug and weapons cartel smuggling the terrorists into the United States, by simply sitting down across from him, explaining how he's going to prison for the rest of his life, and his daughter will grow up and and his wife will get remarried and have a life of their own without him. Then the Chief shows Christo a video of his family, which scares the crap out of him. All Christo can ask is to beg that Senior Chief will not harm his family, and when the Chief promises that they never would, he immediately breaks and gives all the details.
The reason I'll be released is the same reason you think I'll be convicted. I do rub shoulders with some of the most vile, sadistic men calling themselves leaders today. But some of these men are the enemies of your enemies. And while the biggest arms dealer in the world is your boss - the President of the United States, who ships more merchandise in a day than I do in a year... sometimes it's embarrassing to have his fingerprints on the guns. Sometimes he needs a freelancer like me to supply forces he can't be seen supplying. So, you call me evil, but unfortunately for you, I'm a necessary evil.
Or rather, Gloat, in the movie of Daniel Handler's A Series of Unfortunate Events. Olaf reveals to the audience that he has just legally married Violet and played everyone for a sap. When Mr. Poe demands that the Chief of Police arrest him, Olaf calls Poe and everyone out on how the kids had repeatedly tried to warn the adults and asked for help, but they wouldn't listen to them. "No one ever listens to children".
The murderer X in Agatha Christie's Curtain is very good at this, manages to manipulate people using seeming simple but manipulative comments, gesture and words, to provokes his target to murder their source of hatred. However, he didn't like to kill directly himself, instead enjoying the process of their target murders.
A heroic example appears in Hogfather, where Susan uses this on Psychopathic Manchild Jonathan Teatime — the first time anyone's managed to shake him up even a little bit.
Susan: I think I know you, Teatime. You're the mad kid they're all scared of, right? The giggling excitable one even the bullies never touched because if they did he went insane and kicked and bit. The one who didn't know the difference between chucking a stone at a cat and setting it on fire. I bet no one wanted to play with you. Not the kid with no friends. Kids know a mind like yours even if they don't know the right words for it. The kind of little boy who looks up dolls' dresses... Teatime: Ididn't!
Saruman, using his enchanted voice, can persuade unsuspecting enemies to join and serve him — even after they defeat him in war. In the chapter "The Voice of Saruman" in The Two Towers, Saruman gives the speech to all of his triumphant enemies, and all are swayed by the power of his voice; likewise, the Riders of Rohan are wholly overcome by it, while Pippin is particularly shamed.
Gandalf then proceeds to demonstrate the perfect counteraction to this tactic: sincere laughter. What Saruman didn't know was that he was now dealing with Gandalf the White, not Gandalf the Grey. Gandalf had come back from death, with new instructions and a mandate from Eru Ilúvatar, which left Saruman's efforts to psych him out pretty pathetic in comparison.
Gríma Wormtongue is a student of Saruman's, and uses similar non-magical techniques on Théoden to render him helpless and hopeless against Saruman, and on Éowyn in order to break her resolve and drive her to desperation.
In The Silmarillion, Glaurung father of dragons delivered one combined neatly with a Mind Screw to Túrin having paralyzed him with his hypnotic glare until he "saw himself as in a mirror misshapen by malice, and loathed that which he saw".
Euthyphro, from Plato's Socratian Dialogs seems to fit this one rather nicely. Socrates attempts to get a description of piety from Euthyphro, but continues to twist every argument Euthyphro offers to his own needs, making this Older Than Feudalism.
From the Thursday Next novel The Eyre Affair. The Big Bad, Acheron Hades, can talk most people into anything. Several times he has escaped by convincing cops to hand over their guns, which are then used on the cops. When Hades needs a lackey, he simply convinces a suitably fit civillain to be one. Fortunately Next can resist to the extent of keeping her wits (and gun), but Hades is still far more clever.
Sisterhood Series by Fern Michaels: In the book Under the Radar, the Prophet Harold Evanrod tries to tell his followers of the pedophile polygamist sect Heaven On Earth, "You see, this is the Devil at work! I told you the people on the outside would try to drive us away from our homes and our religion because they don't understand it. They will be forever damned, and there will be no salvation for any of them. I want you all to be strong because we will prevail." However, the Vigilantes give an effective Shut Up, Hannibal! response to that.
Inverted by The Belgariad during the climactic battle between Garion and Torak. When the Dark God passes up an opportunity to kill Garion, instead demanding that he submit, Garion finally realizes that the purpose of their confrontation is not to fight Torak, but to reject him. His subsequent speech shatters Torak's will and gives Garion the opening he needs to beat him.
Subverted in ''The Tamuli where Sir Bevier is sent to interrogate a prisoner and uses double-talk and open-ended questions to drag the interview out for 3 hours. It turns out all he was doing was trying to annoy the guy and make him think about the things they wanted to know so that Xanetia could be invisible in the room and read his mind, gleaning the information that they knew the man wouldn't give up.
In The Dresden Files: Blood Rites, Harry Dresden on the book's Big Bad Lord Raith. By the end of it, Raith is incredibly furious that Dresden deconstructed him so well.
On another occasion, the ubervillain Nicodemus tried to do something along these lines to Harry in an effort to corrupt him over to his side, and scores some hits, though Harry ends up resisting it. On a later occasion, Harry does a version of this on the shadow of the manipulative demoness Lasciel in an attempt to turn her away from evil, and may have succeeded (the debate remains ongoing in fandom whether Lash changed, and whether she still lives.)
Ruin of Mistborn loves doing this to Vin by consistently pointing out that Vin causes destruction wherever she goes, and therefore has been serving his purposes all along. In the end, though, she gets Ruin back by pointing out that as a human being she has the power to protect and destroy at the same time, unlike the much more limited gods such as Ruin. She them proves it by killing Ruin via Heroic Sacrifice.
Edmund Loris is apt to indulge in this, using lengthy and vitriolic diatribes on his target's failings. Two notable instances are his efforts to make Henry Istelyn cooperate with Judhael's illegal enthronement as a bishop in The Bishop's Heir and while physically torturing Duncan McLain in The King's Justice.
Lord Varys, the Maester of Whisperers and the King's Spider from A Song of Ice and Fire. Varys has raised the delivery of soul-crushing, 'This-is-Why-You-Suck-and-Die' speeches to an art form. In A Game of Thrones, he visits the deposed and imprisoned Lord Eddard Stark and tells him its his own fault alone that he is in chains, that King Robert I Baratheon is dead, that the realm is on the verge of chaos, that one of his daughters is probably dead and the other will soon be dead unless he cooperates. Why is it poor Ned's fault? According to Varys...
"To be sure. You are an honest and honorable man, Lord Eddard. Ofttimes I forget that. I have met so few of them in my life." He glanced around the cell. "When I see what honesty and honor have won you, I understand why."
In the epilogue of A Dance with Dragons, Varys sneaks through the Red Keep incognito and murders Grand Maester Pycelle and Ser Kevan Lannister. Before the good Ser passes, Varys reveals the beginning of his endgame - Prince Aegon VI Targaryen is still alive and now a grown man, Varys has carefully played and engineered events on both sides of the Narrow Sea for years in order to bring about the Targaryen restoration.
"Aegon has been shaped for rule before he could walk. He has been trained in arms, as befits a knight to be, but that was not the end of his education. He reads and writes, he speaks several tongues, he has studied history and law and poetry. A septa has instructed him in the mysteries of the Faith since he was old enough to understand them. He has lived with fisherfolk, worked with his hands, swum in rivers and mended nets and learned to wash his own clothes at need. He can fish and cook and bind up a wound, he knows what it is like to be hungry, to be hunted, to be afraid. Tommen has been taught that kingship is his right. Aegon knows kingship is his duty, that a king must put his people first, and live and rule for them".
In Darkness at Noon, Ivanov believes he can break Rubashov just by talking to him, but Gletkin insists that only physical pain will work. As it turns out, Ivanov was right.
Inverted in the World War II French novella Le Silence de la mer, wherein the unwilling hosts of a German officer resolve to resist by never speaking a word to him. He is eventually broken by the unrelenting silence - and by his own Heel Realisation.
Suspicion: Big Bad Dr. Emmenberger and The Hero Inspector Bärlach try and fail to do this to each other. Emmenberger doesn't care about what will happen to him while Bärlach after a while simply refuses to talk or listen to Emmenberger.
Peeta Mellark manages this in his Quarter Quell interview. He is highly skilled when it comes to manipulating a crowd with his words and in this case he claims to have married Katniss and that she is pregnant with their love child in order to win her support in the Games. He accomplishes not only that but gets the Capitol audience so upset that some of them cry for the Games to be stopped.
Pratt gave one of these to two teenagers who unintentionally shot a six-year-old girl when trying to get someone else. He specifically had them brought to the emergency room where they could actually see the little girl, lying unconscious on the table, covered in blood, and he brutally mentioned all the organs in her body that were damaged because of what they did.
Another episode had Kerry Weaver firing an incompetent resident. When she publicly humiliates him by listing his many screw-ups, he counteracts with the fact that the entire ER staff despises her and that the only reason she's so dedicated to her job is because it's the only thing she has in her life.
Law & Order: Criminal Intent often does it the opposite way from a Hannibal Lecture, as many episodes — particularly those with Goren in the lead detective role — frequently build up to a final interrogation wherein the detectives do it to the perp, playing psychological mind games or confronting them with how inadequate or pathetic they are in order to get them to crack.
A Monster of the Week in Samurai Sentai Shinkenger named Zuboshimeshi has this as a superpower. He's able to search the minds of his victims and find the one word that is most hurtful to them, then turning the pain it causes them into an attack.
In Leverage, "The Experimental Job", a Breaking Speech by an interrogator is turned around into a Hannibal Lecture. A career CIA interrogator tries to break Eliot by getting him to talk about how many people Eliot has killed. Eliot convinces the CIA man that he's killed far more, and remembers far more details, and that it already haunts him far more, than the CIA man could possibly have imagined or could possibly invoke. The CIA man is so shaken that he ends the day's session right then and there.
At times, Frank Pembleton from Homicide: Life on the Street edges from Perp Sweating to this. In one episode, he talked someone into confessing proudly to a crime they BOTH knew he didn't do, just to keep an investigation open.
In a dazzling display of self-loathing, House (well, technically it's the guy who shot him, but it's all a hallucination, so...) does this to himself:
Moriarty: You think that the only truth that matters is the truth that can be measured. Good intentions don't count, what's in your heart doesn't count, caring doesn't count, that a man's life can't be measured by how many tears are shed when he dies. It's because you can't measure them. It's because you don't want to measure them. Doesn't mean it's not real.
House: This doesn't make any sense.
Moriarty: And even if I'm wrong, you're still miserable. Did you really think that your life's purpose was to sacrifice yourself and get nothing in return? No. (As he speaks, we see House in a car with Moriarty's wife, who supposedly killed herself because House told her about her husband's cheating. The car is in a smoke-filled garage.) You believe there is no purpose to anything. Even the lives you save, you dismiss. You take the one decent thing in your life, and you taint it, strip it of all meaning. You're miserable for nothing. I don't know why you'd want to live. (In the car, House closes his eyes, proving Moriarty right. Then we return to the hospital.)
In Justified, Donovan storms into Duffy's trailer and threatens to kill Quarles for murdering his friend Brady. Quarles talks down Donovan by telling him about how his father forced him into prostitution as a young man, and how Theo Tonin adopted him. Donovan lowers his gun, and a tearful Quarles embraces him as he starts crying. Unfortunately, we see Donovan bound and gagged in Quarles' bathroom at the end of the episode, suggesting that Quarles plans to torture and kill him just as he did Brady.
As he seems to have a neon sign on his forehead saying "SELF-LOATHING WOOBIE WITH DADDY ISSUES", Dean from Supernatural tends to get this done to him a lot. The Crossroads Demon (twice), The Yellow-Eyed Demon (twice), Sam whenever he's under the influence... The list goes on.
The scene in My Bloody Valentine when he corners Famine in a diner is one of the most painful examples on the show:
Famine: Have you wondered why that is? How you can even walk in my presence?
Dean: I like to think it's because of my strength of character.
Famine: I disagree. Yes. I see. That's one deep, dark nothing you've got there, Dean. You can't fill it, can you? Not with food, nor drink; not even with sex. Oh, you can smirk and joke and lie to your brother, lie to yourself, but not to me. I can see inside you, Dean. I can see how broken you are, how defeated; you can't win and you know it, but you just keep trying, just keep going through the motions. You're not hungry, Dean, because inside you're already dead.
The best came from Lucifer in the late season 5 episode "Hammer of the Gods" in a speech to Mercury.
Lucifer: You know, I never understood you pagans, you're such petty little things. Always fighting, always happy to sell out your own kind. You, are worse than humans. You're worse than demons. And yet you claim to be gods. No wonder you forfeited this planet to us. And they call me prideful.
Done by several Leviathans in 7.06 "Slash Fiction". Bobby mostly shrugs off his double's taunts, but Sam gets hit hard by Leviathan!Dean's revelation.
Doctor Who: The Doctor's biggest gift is his gab, especially in his seventh incarnation. Notable examples include talking a Dalek into committing suicide in Remembrance of the Daleks, and even talking down a guard who was ordered to execute him in The Happiness Patrol.
The Doctor does it again in the new series: the Master is about to blow up the planet Earth (which both he and the Doctor are currently standing on) with 'black hole converters' built into every ship of his conquering fleet to spite the Doctor, who has just thwarted him. Rather than trying to appeal to his better nature or beg him not to, the Doctor's response is merely to dismissively point out that he knows him; the Master is unable to do such a thing because to do so would be to kill himself, which the Master simply cannot do. As such, the Doctor calmly points out, the Master has no choice but to surrender his weapon — which he does.
Headmaster: Well, I warn you, the school is armed. Baines/Son of Mine: All your little tin soldiers... but tell me sir; will they thank you? Headmaster: I don't understand. Baines/Son of Mine: What do you know of history, sir? What do you know of next year? Headmaster: You're not making sense, Baines. Baines/Son of Mine:1914, sir. Because the Family has traveled far and wide looking for Mr Smith and, oh, the things we have seen. War is coming. In foreign fields, war of the whole wide world, with all your boys falling down in the mud. Do you think they will thank the man who taught them it was glorious?
It also happens to the Doctor a lot. The Beast, Davros, the Carrionites. Given the Doctor is a walking open wound since the Time War, it's a lot easier to get under his skin.
Special mention should be made to "Amy's Choice" where he receives several from himself in the form of the Dream Lord.
The Doctor: Where did you pick up this cheap cabaret act?
Dream Lord: Me? Oh, you're on shaky ground.
The Doctor: Am I?
Dream Lord: If you had any more tawdry quirks, you could open a tawdry quirk shop! The madcap vehicle, the cockamamie hair, the clothes designed by a first-year fashion student... I'm surprised you haven't got a little purple space dog, just to ram home what an intergalactic wag you are!
Later he delves even deeper into the Doctor's mind and deconstructs the Doctor's loneliness and pain to reveal it for what it truly is:
The Doctor: I have to save my friends!
Dream Lord: Friends? Is that what you call the people you acquire? Your friends never see you again once they've grown up. The old man prefers the company of the young, does he not?
The Dream Lord does this to Amy to shake her faith in the Doctor:
Dream Lord: And he always leaves you, doesn't he? Alone in the dark, never apologises...
Amy: He doesn't have to.
Dream Lord: Well that's good... because he never will
In Malcolm in the Middle, Malcolm's mother comes with him to an interview for a university, much to the chagrin of the titular character (considering he is the only one there with a mother). She ends up butting heads with the RA, a massive jerkass. In response to his locking of the vending machine, she escalates the situation in an attempt to get him fired (as opposed to what her son wanted to do, which was go to another floor where the vending machines wouldn't be locked). However, when she confronts him, he nonchalantly points out that this job means nothing to him and there are a hundred other places he could do what he does. Then he quite savagely points out how Lois is a control freak, how she's a failure at life, and how pathetically she's trying to live vicariously through Malcolm, and suggests that if she isn't sure about what he's saying, she should talk to the other parents that insisted on staying with their kids in the dorm rooms. Crowning Moment Of Awesome.
In one episode, after an argument between the boys dissolves into personal insults, Malcolm points out that Reese doesn't have any friends. Reese instantly becomes sad, only replying "Mom told you you're never allowed to talk about that."
Oz: Beecher and Schillinger do this to each other on separate occasions, mainly to provoke the other into some bad behavior to mess up their chances at parole, or to just torment each other. Keller also does this to Beecher a few times.
Star Trek: Deep Space Nine: In "The Jem'Hadar, Part II," Quark lectures Sisko about his dislike of the Ferengi, claiming that Sisko's Holier Than Thou attitude toward Ferengi greed and deceit is hypocritical, given the fact that humans had far more and worse atrocities in their history: slavery, genocide, conquest, etcetera, on a scale that the Ferengi had never rivaled. As Quark stated, "we're not only as good as you are, human — we're better." Quark's point brings Sisko up short thinking about it, at least briefly.
Oddly the Slavery and conquest are massive lies, female Ferengi are slaves, and economic conquest is their biggest trait, they happily leave to their own devices those who fail financially and the only reason why they never committed genocide is because there's no profit in it.
More oddly Sisko never thinks to mention that humanity in the 24th century isn't doing any of this.
"In the Pale Moonlight", Quark does this mixed with Your Approval Fills Me with Shame by thanking Sisko for proving to Quark that "Every Man Has His Price" which happens to be Ferengi Rule of Acquisition #98.
Sisko pulls a variant on this on Dukat in "Waltz". Instead of snapping Dukat's already tenuous grasp on sanity by chewing him out and telling him to his face he's a jerk, Sisko uses feigned agreement, leading questions and coaxing him to reveal his uglier feelings until the Cardassian begins yelling about how he should have wiped out the entire population of Bajor while he had the chance. Things go downhill quite swiftly at that point.
Parodied in 30 Rock. During a poker game, Alec Baldwin's powerful network executive character attempts to intimidate a naive NBC page with a lengthy speech similar to the one from Silence of the Lambs. When the page eventually loses the game, Baldwin explains that it was only a test, and, as the once-again chipper page exits on his bike, Baldwin utters the classic line, "In five years we'll all either be working for him... or be dead by his hand."
In To Play the King, Prime Minister Francis Urquhart breaks down the King of England, forcing him to abdicate the throne.
In The League of Gentlemen episode, Nightmare in Royston Vasey, Ross seizes the opportunity to berate Pauline for her incompetence as a restart officer during a mock interview where Ross is the interviewer.
Happens a lot on House of Anubis. The sinners used it most often to provoke their victims into sinning, or in most cases, to just be cruel.
Raven was well-known for delivering these to his opponents in order to demoralize them.
Shawn Michaels was a regular recipient of these speeches, particularly in the later parts of his career once he turned perma-face, but he usually interrupted them with Sweet Chin Music. Occasionally, after knocking his lecturer out cold, he'd deliver his own over their unconscious (or at least stunned) body. (If it's done to someone unconscious, it can't really qualify for the trope.) He was particularly fond of doing this to Chris Jericho.
Back in his heel days, he used to hand them out himself like party favors. Even as a face, he'd break them out occasionally, and he's the one guy ever who could get away with throwing them at The Undertaker.
Vin Gerard performed a number of these on Shane Storm — playing off Storm's betrayal of the technicos by selling out the counter to the Chikara Special (a Chikara Moral Event Horizon if there ever was one) and then twisting his world on its axis as Vin thanked him for it. Ended with Storm 'transforming' into the rudo STIGMA, dropping the colour from his outfits, the bright mullet becoming a black mohawk and joining with Vin Gerard and Colin Delaney to become the UnStable.
Then inverted when Vin tries the same thing on Jigsaw, who had removed his mask elsewhere and hadn't been seen in Chikara for a year. Vin said that he'd never seen the boys in the back as angry at anyone as they were at Jigsaw ("No matter what I did, I never had to buy a ticket!") and there was no way to get back on their good side - Jigsaw might as well join the UnStable. Jigsaw responded with superkicks.
Chris Jericho. Back in 2008 and early 2009 when everyone took his heel character completely seriously, Jericho would do this weekly. They rarely worked, but they were awesome.
CM Punk in his Straight Edge persona. He is so awesome that he can actually give these while he's in the middle of a match.
Brilliantly used in That Mitchell and Webb Sound, a radio programme. In multiple segments, Webb's character insults a woman's dress sense, weight or intelligence, eventually turning into a full-blown Breaking Speech. When the woman has been reduced to a wreck, Webb asks for a date, to cheer the woman up.
Pickup artists call this "negging".
On the (very) few occasions when the Dark Powers of Ravenloft have apparently communicated directly to anyone, it's been to do this to a potential darklord, delivered in familiar voices. Strahd heard the voices of Tatyana and Sergei taunting him, while Azalin heard the voices of his son and his mentor in wizardry.
New World of Darkness sourcebook Slasher (which deals with exactly what you think it does) has this as a talent of the Genius Undertaking and its natural progression, the Maniac. The Genius has the ability to instinctively profile anyone and learn what facts they'd hate to have revealed. The Maniac uses this knowledge to always have advantage over a certain target, and, with time, to convert the target to his point of view (a la Jigsaw).
Sith Lords in the d20 Star Wars game have a power that lets them do this more effectively.
In Man of La Mancha the Knight of the Mirrors does this to Don Quixote, explaining to him in unpleasant terms how the world sees him and using a number of minions carrying full length mirrors to prove it. (It is worth noting that he does not do this in the book, which is why this entry appears in the theater section)
1776: Rutledge breaks them by singing. "Molasses to Rum" has him vividly act out the process of the slave trade from Boston to Africa to the Caribbean and plantations, highlighting both the horrors of it and the hypocrisy of the Northern states in decrying it when their own citizens profit considerably. When he leaves (with all the Southern states), the independence faction is devastated and have no choice but to accept the deletion of the anti-slavery clause despite Adams' prediction that it would come back to haunt them.
In the sequence of mysterious dreams in the first game, the sinister presence lurking behind the Player Character's soul makes itself known and tries to bend them to its will, sometimes in words but just as often in images. The last dream ends with the equivalent of a "World of Cardboard" Speech, where the protagonist recognises they can control their own fate.
In BG II: Shadows of Amn, there is a similar but less focused sequence of dreams where something that looks like the Big Bad lectures you.
"Why do you stand for this!? Why do you submit to the flesh when death is bred in your bones?"
Turns out though that it isn't quite what it seems. By the point the lecturer is replaced by your sister you'll have figured out the origin though...
"What does an eternity of nothingness matter when you can defeat all your opponents as easily as one... two... three... four... FIVE!"
In BG II: Throne of Bhaal, this is done by some wraiths to both the protagonist and their possible love interest by taking the forms of their lost loved ones and making hurtful accusations. It's a ploy to make the victims break down and become easy prey.
Before the final battle in Neverwinter Nights: Hordes of the Underdark, Big Bad Mephistopheles does this to each of your party members in turn, turning them to his side unless you can talk them back out of it.
Ravel, a mid-way adversary, confronts any and all characters in the party with a (de)moralizing tirade about how their particular history of suffering, self-deception, and misdeeds have shaped them, noting that in the end it was these things that led them to follow the lead character on his quest, so ensnared in circumstances that the choice never truly was their own. Though she is promptly defeated after this, the things she alludes to usually cast the pasts of both the NPCs and the Player Character in a new (and usually less pretty) light.
The Nameless One himself can use the technique on the resident Knight Templar, which convinces him to pass on as there's nothing worth holding on to in his unlife any longer.
In World of Warcraft, as you progress through the questline to create Shadowmourne, a legendary weapon to match the The Lich King's own, he whispers to you about how you and he both harvest souls for your own ends, he too once sought a weapon of great power, how he commands powers beyond you, et cetera.
Archer in the visual novel Fate/stay nighthammers Shirou. And considering Archer IS Shirou from the future, he knows exactly how to reduce him to complete Heroic BSOD.
"You need to become a hero. That is your only emotion, and it's not even your own. You knew. Yes, but you kept that from yourself. I remember, it's not that you felt guilty for being the Sole Survivor. You just admired your Kiritsugu; he looked so happy when he saved you. But you went too far. It would have been fine to admire him. But he left you a curse. I don't even need to say it. That is everything for you. Your ideal is borrowed. You are only imitating what Kiritsugu wanted, what Kiritsugu thought was right. A superhero? Don't make me laugh. Over and over you said you wished to help people, but that's not even your wish. It's conceited to think you could help anyone! That's right! You admired his desire to save people because it was beautiful! But none of that feeling was your own! What else can you call that but hypocrisy!? Driven by your need to help someone, you don't notice how wrong you are! But it's all fake. You can't save anything. You don't even know what you wanted to save in the first place! That ideal is a failure. It's all fantasy. If you can only live holding on to that, drown in your ideals."
The worst part about Archer's speech is that, unlike the modified version above, halfway through it he starts to talk about himself, using "I" instead of "you."
Far Cry 3: Our protagonist, Jason Brody, accidentally landed on an island that turned out to be a pirate stronghold and his friends brothers were immediately kidnapped as hostages. Eventually, he's captured and their leader, Vaas, asks a simple question as Jason is waking up, "Did I ever tell you the definition of insanity?" Vaas goes on a tangent about how insanity is doing the same thing, over and over again, expecting different results. If you think about it, says Vaas, life is composed of little everyday moments of madness, like "a bunch of pricks doing the same thing over and over again expecting shit to change!" Yet for some reason, despite Vaas already having "killed" Jason, here he is about to kill him again, and it's not like Vaas is crazy. He then drops Jason into deep water weighed down with a cinderblock...and when Jason survives that, Vaas finds him again, and says one thing before simply shooting Jason in the chest. "Did I ever tell you the definition of insanity?"
Several enemies in Kingdom of Loathingfight this way. They will tell the player character something so hurtful, disgusting, or frightening that it does physical damage. For instance, nearly all the normal enemies in a 2013 sidequest zone attack by pointing out the player's fears, like death, loneliness, and poverty.
Every single boss in American McGee's Alice. The tougher the boss, the more Mind Screw they pour on in the Boss Banter. Justified in that every boss represents a self-destructive component of her own psyche (the Jabberwock in particular is Alice's guilt over surviving the fire that killed her family).
In Devil Survivor, Kaido delivers a particularly blunt one to Keisuke if you don't prevent their confrontation. Then he kills him and follows this up by calling Atsuro out over his anger.
Malefor from The Legend of Spyro: Dawn of the Dragon is able to make Spyro and Cynder doubt everything they've done in three games, though Cynder gets the worst of it. He makes her doubt herself to such a point he can retake her mind and turn her evil again, then continues to lecture Spyro as the poor guy is getting beaten down by his brainwashed girlfriend. Even though Sypro saves Cynder with the Power of Love, the shocker comes from the fact the fact we, and they, have no idea just how much of what Malefor said is true. His menacing Voice of the Legion also helps.
In Metal Gear Solid, many of the Foxhound members but in particular Liquid would enjoy lecturing Snake on how he is honestly no different than them, and how his superiors continually use him to further their own ends while screwing him over. Their speeches ultimately fail not because Snake figures out they're lying, but because he decides it ultimately doesn't matter: he has a mission, it's a good mission, and he's going to finish it. Their accusations come back to haunt him later in his life, though.
In Phoenix Wright: Trials and Tribulations, Mia Fey delivers one of these to the possessing spirit of Dahlia Hawthorne, pointing out that every single Evil Plan she's made has resulted in failure and shame, including the one that she made from beyond the grave. The Fey/Wright clan has always been there to stop her and as a ghost she's doomed to eternal failure. This revelation horrifies her so much that it winds up exorcising Dahlia from Maya's body completely.
The Shadow Archetypes in Persona 4 have this as part of their nature: As they are the anthropomorphic personifications of their originators' repressed feelings and fears, they will relentlessly hound their owners with the knowledge they are made of in an attempt to make their owners face up to their fears and accept them as part of themselves, becoming personas instead. Trying a Shut Up, Hannibal! on them is not a good idea.
The Big Bad does this too (see the series page), as does the Normal ending's Final Boss, but he gets Shut Up, Hannibal!'d so hard his persona reverts into a shadow and possesses him.
Mega Man Zero 4: The Ragnarok Colony Drop has gone completely out of control, and Zero thought he destroyed the one behind it all. Until:
Dr. Weil: I told you... I can't die! No one can stop Ragnarok now.
Zero: If I destroy Weil's core, the explosion will take Ragnarok out with it... If Ragnarok is blown apart, it no longer poses a threat!
Dr. Weil: Are you even capable of it? The Reploid hero, protecting justice and humanity! I am one of those humans you have sworn to protect! Do you have it in you to defeat me?!
Happens three times in Tales of Vesperia. First, Phaeroh explains how Estelle's power is killing the world, that killing her, while morally wrong, is the only way to prevent it, and finding an alternative is pointless. Later on, Alexei details how the world has become an utter crapsack and that its only hope is to be "reborn" (under his totalitarian rule). Finally, at the end, Duke explains why sacrificing humanity is the only way to destroy the Adephagos, and also why he beieves humanity deserves to die for the various atrocities they've committed throughout history. All three times, Yuri tells the speaker to stow it.
against Simon Belmont: Not even the storied Belmont clan can stand against the power of time.
against Alucard: You, who bear a heavy cross: what does eternity hold for you?
against Trevor Belmont: Even a man named "Legend" is but a babe in the face of time.
against Grant Danasty: You live for the sake of others. Your tale will be passed down for eternity.
against Sypha Belnades: No matter how powerful the magic you wield, you will never surpass time.
against Eric Lacarde: Jealousy of the whip does not excuse your arrogance with the lance.
against Maria Renard: You are fated to walk a difficult path. Enjoy yourself while you can.
against Shanoa: You seek a dangerous power. It, too, is governed by time.
against Carmilla: Your quest for eternal beauty is doomed. Nothing withstands time.
against Cornell: Everything resolves in its own time, regardless of your desires.
against the Golem: Even artificial life is subject to the laws of time.
against Death: You govern the fate of Death, but even fate is a truth bound by time.
against Dracula: Even the Lord of Darkness cannot escape time.
against himself: Mimicking my form will not allow you to rule time.
In Xenosaga: Episode I, Virgil gives a brief one to Shion just before he detonates a group of Realians in an attempt to stop a Gnosis invasion:
Shion: Stop it! You have no right to play god with their lives! Using them as bombs... I won't let you do this!
Virgil: So whaddya gonna do about it? Tell me, why haven't you disabled that function? Sure it's factory-loaded, but you of all people shouldn't have any trouble removing it. Since you care about them so much, all it would take is a little tweak, and they’d be free as birds... And yet you don't. Why not?
Shion: Because...company protocol dictate...
Virgil: Exactly! It's protocol! In other words, you’re just like me, bound by that protocol. We're the ones that give them a reason to live. Am I wrong?!
Shion: But I —
Virgil: That’s the difference between us and them! Am I wrong?! So, why not give it to them? A meaning to their pitiful existence!
GLaDOS of Portal gives some pretty solid speeches through the course of both games, but they're usually so ridden with sarcasm and crazy that most players find them more funny than frightening.
Do you know the biggest lesson I learned from what you did?
You've been wrong about every single thing you've ever done. Including this thing.
You're not smart, you're not a doctor, you're not a scientist, you're not even a full time employee.
You killed me. I — oh, no, wait. I guess I haven't killed you. Yet.
Food for thought.
Cut content of the second game has GLaDOS delivering some pretty devastating ones. It makes you wonder if they were cut simply for being too nasty compared to the generally humourous tone of the game.
Several of the patient interview tapes in the Arkham Series count. The ones in the first game are largely the patients trying to break their therapists, while in the second game, they are mostly Doctor Strange trying to break the inmates.
Skyrim:the Stormcloaks are currently rebelling against the Imperials (which, despite their name, are not at all villainous) because it was forced by the Aldmeri Dominion to outlaw Talos worship after losing the Great War. Sybille Stentor, the Court Wizard of Solitude, delivers a magnificent one to the Dragonborn aimed at the Stormcloaks as a whole when asked why Skyrim's previous High King refused to support them.
Sybille Stentor: Because the Dominion is a sleeping beast that Skyrim cannot slay alone. Because many Nords are part of the Imperial army even now. Because the food and resources we get from the Empire are important to our people. Because even if we can't openly worship him, Talos the god was once Tiber Septim the man, and this is his Empire.
In Fallout: New Vegas, the Courier can do this to a captured Legionnaire if s/he has a high enough Speech skill.
In the original Fallout, the Vault Dweller can do this to the Master if s/he has proof that the Master's plan to replace humanity with mutants is doomed to failure.
Vaarsuvius does it to Elanaccidentally. Sure, (s)he was giving him a "The Reason You Suck" Speech about how stupid his attempt at being a wizard was, but (s)he was quite shocked and shamed when he broke down crying, especially when he went on to say he just wanted to be powerful and smart like (s)he was.
Redcloak telling Miko how she's just as unnatural as an undead creature here. It doesn't work, though, since almost nothing can get through her conviction that she's always in the right. Plus, Redcloak's being a hypocrite in that speech.
Redcloak: Oh, so now you've gained some insight on the universe by letting your body and mind deteriorate?
Right-Eye:Yes! When you're faced with your own mortality, you have no choice but to consider what's best for the next generation. And this deal with Xykon is killing our spirit as fast as it's killing our bodies. You don't know what it is you're trying to better, because you don't know what it's like not to serve an undead overlord, or a petty spiteful god.
Redcloak: ...What did you just say to me?
Right-Eye: Come on. You have to realize that the Dark One doen't care about us. Why else would he let you throw goblin lives away on this plan?
Redcloak: Throw away lives? How dare you?! Every goblin that has died since I've been high priest has been to further The Plan! Their deaths were a necessary sacrifice! They were not my fault!
Right-Eye: Wait... that's it, isn't it? It's all about whose fault it is... If I kill Xykon now, then it was all a waste. You ordered goblins to their deaths believing in the Plan - so if we abandon it now, then you were wrong. You let them die for nothing. You're willing to throw good lives after bad so that you don't have to admit that we were wrong to work with Xykon in the first place, much less help him cheat death.
Redcloak receives another one shortly after this from Xykon, saying that he let Redcloak kill his brother so he would never betray Xykon. If he did, he would have killed his brother for nothing. And as his brother pointed out, it would mean everything he's done has not just been in vain, but wrong.
Belkar delivers a brutal one to Roy after they find out that Durkon has been turned into a vampire. It works.
Tarquin does it quite by accidentally to Elan in #763. He explains happily what a great story their exploits will make by the force of Narrative Causality, but since this involves a seemingly incontrovertible and slightly mind-bending argument that evil will inevitably triumph on both personal and large scale even though good will "win" in the story, it sends Elan running away in terror.
In "Oceans Unmoving", Bun-bun does this to Calix while duelling (and beating) him, explaining to him how he doomed his own people by encouraging them to mutiny on a high-tech ship they were subsequently unable to steer. Also lampshaded:
Bun-bun: When we first shanghaied you, I thought I saw something in you that I liked. Now that I have the opportunity to crush your soul, I like you even more.
In "A Time for Healing", the zombie Jane gives Gwynn a "The Reason You Suck" Speech at least bordering on this about how annoying and shallow she finds her and how someone like her couldn't use real magic. Unfortunately for Jane, her last taunts makes Gwynn angry enough that she's finally able to show that yes, she does have access to about a hundred times more powerful magic than Jane does.
In "bROKEN", Bun-bun traps Oasis in a sauna and, after berating her for stupidity, starts verbally tormenting her with images of her "beloved" with another woman. It ends up almost as badly for him as in Jane's case.
During the first meeting of Black Hat Guy and his girlfriend. Here and here.
And later, by the same character, when someone tries "negging: you belittle chicks to undermine their self-confidence so they'll be more vulnerable and seek your approval" on her. It's where the page quote comes from. Alt Text: "Son, don't try to play 'make you feel bad' with the Michael Jordan of making you feel bad."
In Goblins, when Dellyn figures out that Thaco has taken levels as though he were a Player Character, he calls it the 'most perverse thing he's ever heard of', and points out that by doing so, Thaco has admitted that goblins will always be inferior to humans.
A subversion occurs in this strip of It's Walky!, in which the main villain — who has a tendency to do this to certain heroes and play on their insecurities and the secrets he's learnt about them — finds his ability hampered when faced with members of the team that he knows next-to-nothing about, and what little he does know doesn't bother them in the slightest when he tries to throw it back at them. Frustrated, he curses himself for 'playing favorites'.
This is a power of Thrawn, demon of half-truths, from Shades – whenever somebody gets caught in his tentacles, he can see victim's dearest ideals and describe them through dark, twisted point of view. The worst part? What he says is always at least partly true.
Cuanta Vida, page 136. Rojo attempted to backstab Bleu, and for his efforts he received a broken nose and a vicious beating from Jeremy's crutch. While lying defenseless on the ground, Rojo attempts to appeal to Bleu's pacifistic nature: "Put down the gun...How many people have you killed today? Too many, right? Why add another?" Too bad itdidn'twork.
In Worm Tattletale can do this due to her power. It doesn't matter who your are, if you can hear her, she will get to you. For this reason Armsmaster has some of his team wear earplugs when fighting her and she's frequently targeted first in fights.
Contessa and Scion are even more capable at this. Contessa made Bonesaw perform a Heel-Face Turn with three words. Scion made Eidolon depressed to the point where he let himself be killed with 4 words.
Boneclaw Mother in Digger is very old, has lived with her tribe for all her years and knows every last one of their closeted skeletons and how to flash them using the best possible words. She's so good at it most of her tribe thinks she's telepathic. When egged on to try it on Jhalm in the climax she wisely points out it doesn't work on people you hardly know — but nonetheless manages to wing it sufficiently to make Jhalm step off.
Megatron tries this on Optimus Primal in their climactic battle in the final episode of Beast Wars. He even quotes scripture from the Covenant of Primus (a book of truthful prophecies) to prove that Optimus would fail. Then Optimus turns it against him in a Shut Up, Hannibal! moment.
Megatron: "And there came a hero who said, 'Hurt not the earth, nor the trees, nor the seas, nor the very fabric of time.' But the hero would not prevail!'"
Optimus: "Finish the quote, Megatron! 'NOR WOULD HE SURRENDER!'"
In the Family Guy episode "Seahorse Seashell Party", Meg finally breaks down and points out all of their hypocritical acts of ganging up on her and puting her down making her feel awful, and how they raised her specifically for that purpose. Her Lecture is harsh enough to send Lois into tears, and then makes all of the members of the family turn onto one another, ending with Peter crying and fleeing upstairs where Lois goes to look for him. Brian and she later realise that if the family didn't have someone to act as a lightning rod for their worst behaviour then they'd end up destroying each other and themselves.
Another example is when Connie D'Amico casually insults Meg at the prom in front of her (very intoxicated) date Brian Griffin:
Brian: "Connie, I think I have a theory about why you're such a bitch. You see, Connie, you're popular because you developed early and started putting out when you were 12, but now, you can't stand to look at yourself in the mirror because all you see is a whore. So you pick on Meg to avoid the inevitable realization that once your body is used up by age 19, you're gonna be a worn-out, chalky skin, burlap sack that even your stepdad won't want. How's that? Am I in the ball park?"
In the same episode, Batman also pulls one of these...on himself.
And he won. When you think about it, Lord!Batman manages to win the first one ("We created a world where no eight year old boy will ever lose his parents... because of some punk with a gun.") and Batman does this later while driving in the Batmobile ("They'd love it here, Mom and Dad. They'd be so proud of you.").
The commentary states that the scene was created by one half of the production team debating the other from Batman's point of view. And to actually keep the viewer in the dark, neither Batman nor Lord!Batman faced the audience while talking, thus allowing a one sided conversation that either Batman could have been winning until the reveal.
Also in the series predecessor /Avatar: The Last Airbender , Katara gives a rousing speech to the Earthbending prisoners about being strong people. But the warden there nastily tells her that their spirits were broken long ago, and she failed in her mission. This is enough to make her feel sad...and for Haru and the Earthbenders to strike back.
In "The Return of Harmony", the especially vicious Faux Affably Evil villain Discord corrupts each of the main ponies to keep them from using the Elements of Harmony that they represent against him. Ultimately he just brainwashes each of them with magic (aside from Twilight Sparkle), but he also takes the trouble to break each down before that, usually by talking. In Applejack's case, he manipulates her to doubt the value of honesty (her element) by showing her a terrible "truth" that she can't accept, before turning her into a liar. For Pinkie Pie (laughter), he makes her think her friends laugh at her all the time, before turning her unhappy and hostile. Fluttershy (kindness) is the only one on whom his speech doesn't work, because she's too trusting, and accepting of her own flaws... So he just zaps her into being cruel anyway.
Discord: Well, it must be so upsetting to know how weak and helpless they think you are.
Fluttershy: Not at all! I am weak and helpless, and I appreciate their understanding.
In "Putting Your Hoof Down", of all ponies to deliver one, Fluttershy does it to both Pinkie Pie and Rarity, calling their interests frivolous and driving them both to tears. Yikes.
A series of independent experiments carried out by a sadistic Harvard psychology professor in the 1960s could be counted as an extreme (and, as it turned out, extremely unfortunate) real-life example of Breaking Them by Talking. University students were instructed to write an essay summarizing their personal philosophy on life and underlying principles, then went into a room expecting to debate philosophy with a fellow student. They instead faced an interrogation by a far more experienced opponent, whose sole purpose was to attack and ridicule their beliefs at length. Since one of the main goals of the experiment was to induce stress and upset the subject as much as possible, it's not surprising that many students came out feeling traumatized. One of them eventually went completely over the edge (for this reason or some other) and became the Unabomber.
The professor had worked with the CIA in developing a test that tested pilots' wills, preventing them from possibly being brainwashed if captured. He decided to "fine tune" his technique using students as test subjects, but really, the guy was a sadist who got off on this sort of thing. WNYC's Radio Lab covered this story in one of their pieces titled "Oops"; you can hear it here starting at 4:20.
A favorite technique of many Trolls. They call others a basement dwelling, virginal loser with issues of self-esteem. Usually it tells you more about them than anyone else.
In the documentary, I, Psychopath, diagnosed Narcissist Sam Vaknin subjects the filmmaker to these during most of the filming. The filmmaker almost has a nervous breakdown.