Bullying a Dragon

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Loki: What have I to fear?
Tony: Let's do a headcount here: your brother, the demi-god; the super-soldier, a living legend who kinda lives up to the legend; a man with breathtaking anger management issues; couple of master assassins - and you, big fella, you've managed to piss off every single one of them.
Loki: That was the plan.
Tony: Not a great plan.

See that guy over there? The one that can make Your Head A-Splode with his Psychic Powers? What a weirdo. Let's throw rocks at him!

This is the fate-tempting and suicidal tendency of characters to bully, persecute, or in some other way provoke people or things they really shouldn't be messing with. That weird loner who sits in a corner reading? Fine, douchebag. That beautiful lady who can heal people? If you're that much of an asshole, go for it (but keep in mind that you may find yourself in a position later where you need her to heal you). The blind kid that somehow knows what you're about to do and is powerless to stop you? Yeah, jackass, whatever floats your boat. But the kid who can warp the fabric of reality and just wants to be left alone? Bad idea.

A Sub-Trope of All of the Other Reindeer, where the character is surrounded by tormentors even though they are known to have some incredible power conducive to being a Person of Mass Destruction, and most of the time because of this. This frequently crops up in Kids Are Cruel (in which case it would be "Kids Are Cruel And Also Too Stupid To Deserve To Exist"). It's usually a way of getting us to sympathize with the main character, but, really, bullies should be smart enough not to mock the "freak" Blessed with Suck and Super Strength. Even when logically—or at least using the basest level of human decency and smallest inkling of self preservation—these bullies should find a weaker target or cut the poor kid some slack. So, in a sense, Straw Bullies. Then again, Youth Is Wasted on the Dumb and the Prideful.

The Fettered especially have it bad, because they choose not to fight back, and often protect their tormentors from the Forces of Evil. Sometimes the bully in question knows this, and we're back to them being cowards who pick on those who can't/won't retaliate.

If the victim snaps, they will turn the tables (if not turn the table into a buzzsaw, set it spinning at hurricane-level speeds, and shove their tormentors' intestines into the spinning blades.) Also, don't lie. It is very cathartically awesome when the bullies are finally killed off or subjected to a Fate Worse Than Death as Revenge. (And, if they have not done anything remotely objectionable up to this point, this could well be taken as a case of Dark Is Not Evil.) Unfortunately, many of the times a bully attempts to go after someone of this ilk is because they are trying to elicit a response, which in turn, would prove everyone's point about how much of a freak they truly are. Then again, in many cases this makes them even stupider, as they don't seem to consider anything particularly awful happening to themselves as a result of their actions.

Please note: the trope need not require actual bullying (though it is a popular method). As long as the provoker or provokers intentionally and excessively antagonize someone much more powerful than they are, knowing full well beforehand just what they are screwing with, then it's Bullying A Dragon. Also just because a person can beat up or kill a person doesn't mean they have the right to (As You Know, blowing someone's head off for a minor insult is kind of a dick move). Also, if the Dragon suffers abuse because they're massive jerks, then we may be dealing with Cape Busters instead. If this trope is done with the likely outcome as the goal it's Suicide by Cop.

Also see Fantastic Racism. A popular Freudian Excuse and backstory for a Start of Darkness. This trope doesn't usually have anything to do with The Dragon who's the Big Bad's second-in-command (although, it might). Video Game examples where the AI keeps trying to bully you despite the power difference because it's not programmed to back down has a special trope, Suicidal Overconfidence. The Cornered Rattle Snake is weaker than the 'Dragon' and may not appear powerful or willing to fight back but can be dangerous if pushed too far.

Compare:
  • Did You Just Flip Off Cthulhu?: Showing defiance to something you know is about to kill you.
  • Do Not Taunt Cthulhu: When the entity you've been picking on retaliates by murdering you.
  • Mugging the Monster: If you thought you were the badass and they were an easy victim. Can evolve into Bullying a Dragon if you find out the hard way that you're outclassed but still persist in provoking further attacks. It can also exist simultaneously when the obviously intimidating and dangerous person is hiding something that makes them even more intimidating and dangerous.
  • Paper Tiger: An inversion in which the target looks powerful but is only putting up a facade.
  • Shooting Superman: Launching an attack against a target you know is tough enough to just shrug it off.


Examples:


Alternative Title(s): Bullying The Dragon

http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/BullyingaDragon