Bullying The Disabled
An easy way to make a character a loathesome character
is to have them ostracize or tease someone with a (usually physical) disability. Most bullies
wouldn't mock someone for having a disability - it's seen as too mean
to mock someone who is "helpless
" or someone who has an issue they have no control over - so only the most cruel characters do. Usually only younger characters
act this way, however adults and even parents
are also known to.
Compare to Bury Your Disabled
. Sub-trope to Kick the Dog
and Moral Event Horizon
. May be a reason for the disabled character Hiding the Handicap
Anime & Manga
- Ableism in Japan is a reoccuring theme in A Silent Voice:
- The manga is about a New Transfer Student elementary schooler named Shouko who is bullied for being deaf. The protagonist, Shouya, is the worst of the bullies. He constantly makes fun of her, teases her, yanks her hearing aid off, and gets into a fight with her. After Shouko moves away, the class turn their bullying onto Shouya instead. Years later, a high school aged Shouya learns sign-language and tries to atone by befriending Shouko. Despite this, it doesn't help Shouko's feelings of inadequacy due to her deafness and the suicidal thoughts she's had since elementary school.
- Shouko's own mother has acted cold towards her due to her deafness. However, she doesn't hate her daughter. Yakeo made Shouko stay in her elementary school so that she could toughen up. When someone does complain about her daughter, she slaps her hard. It turns out that Yakeo's in-laws blamed Yakeo for Shouko's deafness and thought that it was the reason why Yakeo's husband divorced her, giving a reason for her distant behavior towards her daughters.
- Ueno is a Clingy Jealous Girl who hates Shouko's guts for being close to Shouya. She takes out aggression on Shouko by mocking and bullying her, at one point even telling her You Should Have Died Instead when Shouya saves her from suicide and ends up in a coma. Unlike the other bullies, she shows no remorse towards it. Ueno even tries to shift the bullying away from herself.
- In Sword Art Online, Shino was often bullied for her PTSD which led her to have a phobia of guns. A certain group of bullies used this to extort money out of her. She eventually Grew a Spine and gets over her fear, preventing the bullies from ever taking advantage of her again.
Films — Animation
- FoxTrot: Peter once punched out a bully who was making fun of his blind girlfriend Denise. Denise herself is initially miffed that Peter punched another student—then upon learning the reason why, she's miffed that Peter had only punched him.
- Forrest Gump: As a boy, Forrest Gump had to wear leg braces to correct a non-existent defect. The doctor prescribed the braces to limit Forrest's movement. When a group of bullies threaten young Forrest, he tries to flee with such fervor that he shatters his braces and bolts away with astonishing speed.
- Warrior Cats: Crookedstar was born "Stormkit". After breaking his jaw, his mother renamed him "Crookedkit". Rainflower abandoned Crookedkit after he received his injuries (complete with moving to a separate den) and didn't even give him a life when he became The Leader of his clan. It's implied that, on top of being horrified by his face, she refused to love a kit that would likely die.
- Stacie from The Babysitters Club moved to Connecticut from New York because she was bullied for being diabetic.
- Several characters in Wings of Fire aren't shy about either mocking Sunny for her weird looks or calling her "defective". Sunny isn't deformed like everyone thought. She's a SandWing/NightWing mix.
- I Am J:
- As a child, J once got into a fight because other kids were bullying a girl for being in Special Ed.
- Politically Incorrect Hero J internally pokes fun at a man with Carpal Tunnel Syndrome because he wears wrist braces.
- At one point in Boardwalk Empire, Al Capone is outraged to hear that his deaf son is being bullied at school, and demands to know what kind of bully is that low. His wife points out that the son goes to a special school for the deaf, so disability doesn't really factor into it, it's just a result of Kids Are Cruel.
- Malcolm in the Middle:
- Zig-zagged with Reese's bullying of Stevie: while Reese still gives Stevie the occasional hard time, he makes it perfectly clear as the school's Alpha Bully that Stevie is off limits because he's disabled, and when he performs said bullying he actually tries to accomodate Stevie's disabilities in order to make it fair (like numbing his legs so he'll remain seated during a fight challenge, so Stevie will be able to hit him back).
- When Stevie's parents were about to get divorced, Stevie took a lot of steps backward, becoming unable to speak. Malcolm didn't believe he was really unable to speak, and pretended to bully him in an attempt to get him to fight back, making himself look like a colossal jerk an onlooking crowd.
- Katawa Shoujo:
- Played with when it comes to most characters. While they have a history of being coddled and looked down upon for their disabilities, most haven't been outright mocked for them.
- Shizune's father and her little brother don't see her as a worthy heir due to her deafness. Her father Jigoro never even bothered to learn sign language and mentions he has in the past hired tutors trying to get Shizune to speak.
- Hanako has noticeable burn marks on her body that led to her being bullied growing up.
- Zig-Zagged in the Cyanide & Happiness short "Gym Class". The short starts with a gym class being told that they're going to do an obstacle course. A kid named Brian snickers and suggests that Suzy, a classmate who is in a wheelchair, be the first one to do the course. The gym teacher starts to call him out on his shittyness, but Suzy agrees and does all sorts of incredible stunts and feats of strength to complete the course. Brian then attempts it himself... and we get a Smash Cut to him in the hospital, sitting in a wheelchair, and his entire body bandaged up. The doctor informs him that he'll never walk again, and the gym teacher from before and the rest of the kids who joined him in mocking Suzy now laugh at Brian instead because he's disabled.
- My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic: In "Flight to the Finish", Diamond Tiara and Silver Spoon mock Scootaloo's inability to fly, with the intent of crushing her self-esteem and ultimately dividing the Cutie Mark Crusaders. The show is intentionally vague on whether or not Scootaloo actually has a flying disability, but the point remains clear.
- Family Guy: In "Papa Has a Rollin' Son", Joe reveals he never told his father he's handicapped because he always used to make fun of wheelchair people, calling them "spaghetti legs" and "angel-hair legs" (he worked for a pasta company).
- Pelswick: Boyd frequently mocks the titular character's condition. He draws the line at physical harm, though.
- In Total Drama, Mike suffers from dissociative identity disorder. Once his secret is out, Scott proceeds to rub his disability in and uses it to blackmail him by threatening to tell his girlfriend.
- SpongeBob SquarePants: In the episode "Demolition Doofus", Mrs. Puff gets her inflation sac popped after SpongeBob fails another boating exam. As Mrs. Puff is in the hospital, SpongeBob, oblivious about her situation, makes a joke about how Mrs. Puff should now be called "Mrs. Pop", which causes her to lash out at him until the doctor injects a needle to calm her down.