"Note to self: berating the invincible alien warlord is unwise."
The heroes are facing the villain, and appear to have some sort of power over it. Perhaps they've locked it up, or it's not as terrifying as they thought, or maybe it's lost all its powers. At any rate, one of the heroes starts to taunt it, confident in their success. Then he gets obliterated.
Also see Did You Just Punch Out Cthulhu?
for the title's inspiration. Contrast Did You Just Flip Off Cthulhu?
(in which the taunter knows
he's at a huge disadvantage), Bullying a Dragon
(the entity is choosing not to splatter you), and Mugging the Monster
(where the unfortunate jerkass
has no idea what they're getting into). For now. And, please remember: Cthulhu is NOT Happy Fun Ball
. Liable to Threat Backfire
, for obvious reasons.
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Anime & Manga
- Dragon Ball Z: Do not piss off Buu. Chi-Chi did this, and was turned into an egg and crushed in front of her family, friends, and her youngest child, Goten!
- In Elfen Lied, Bando mocks Lucy, technically Nyu at the time, despite knowing the potential powers she has — although he is an arrogant bastard not too far from the Diclonii. She breaks both arms and gouges out his eyes.
- In Shakugan no Shana, do not attack Shana or get in Yuji's (as the Snake of the Festival) way with her or else he'll grievously hurt and/or even kill you.
- Belldandy from Ah! My Goddess is a nice girl...but when a jerkass attempted to rape her, she kicked his ass. With lightning.
- In the manga, she instead tossed him through a wall, with a tornado.
- Mustang, do NOT taunt a Person of Mass Destruction who has enough firepower to kill anything, including you. Especially if you killed his best friend.
- In Pokémon: The First Movie, Ash's Charizard, upon being released from his Poké Ball, looks Mewtwo in the eye before defiantly blasting a Flamethrower in his direction. Mewtwo just shrugs it off.
- Fried Justine from Fairy Tail learns the hard way to not taunt some one who was said to be equal in power to one of the strongest memebers of his guild by torturing her little brother in front of her.
- In Bokurano, one military officer who points a gun at Koyemshi loses the hand(anime)/fingers(manga) attached to it, and Koyemshi comments "You really are beyond help. Provoking an enemy without grasping his strength?". In the anime, immediately after Kanji gives a You Monster! remark to Koyemshi for the second time , he asks if he has a death wish, then arranges for him to pilot next which will end with his death.
- In Little Witch Academia, the Alpha Bitch and her cohorts find an ominous container at the bottom of a dungeon. They open it, expecting some sort of final boss, but a harmless lizard crawls out. Unaware of the fact that it eats magic, they make fun of it and blast it with spells. It quickly grows into an enormous dragon and goes on a rampage through the school.
- Hellblazer - The protagonist actually flipped off Satan, the latter returned the favor.
- Jubilee of the X-Men once thought it was a good idea to taunt a pack of hungry dinosaurs from the safety of the far side of a forcefield wall. Then the flying dinosaur riders turned up...
- Superman foe Mongul (the first one) met his end this way. When the demon lord Neron appeared before a gathering of villains and offered them power in exchange for their souls, Mongul arrogantly refused. Neron killed him on the spot.
- Dormammu once greatly increased his already immense power to the point of literally pushing the Hulk around. Unfazed, the green goliath threatened Dormammu, but the dark lord merely mocked him and warned that insulting him would be unwise. When the Hulk asked why, Dormammu responded that he had enough power to defeat him without lifting a finger, but Hulk's only response was "That I'd like t'see". In the next panel, Hulk was turned into glass.
- Hulk has been on the otherside of this as well. Taunting him isn't really advisable, yet people are dead set on picking fights with him.
- In Star Wars A New Hope, Admiral Motti feels the need to mock Darth Vader (and the Force), who, it must be said, is a telekinetic, lightsaber-packing, 7-foot-tall armored hulk of a man who has no qualms about killing people. Just to make a point, Vader gives the first ever demonstration of what the Force is capable of by using it to casually strangle the admiral from across the room, stopping only after Tarkin asked.
- Swimming To Cambodia:
Athol Fugard: Spalding! The sea's a lovely lady when you play in her. But if you play with her, she's a BITCH! Play in the sea, yes, but never play with her. You're lucky to be here! You're lucky to be ALIVE!
- Stuart Little 2 has something sort of like this. After being told that Margolo isn't going anywhere, Stuart replies, "Yes she is!" and fires an arrow at Falcon. This pisses him off to the extreme, and he almost manages to kill Stuart.
- In the remake of Clash of the Titans, the human characters do this a lot. Their plan is apparently to render the gods mortal by ceasing to worship them. They appear to have overlooked the fact that they're still invincible teleporting superbeings, who don't take kindly to humanity's rather laughable attempts to fight them.
- Blazing Saddles taught us to not shoot Mongo, it just makes him mad.
- Two villain-on-hero examples come from the Marvel Cinematic Universe, both directed at Hulk of course. The first happens in The Incredible Hulk when Emil "Soon-To-Be-Abomination" Blonsky walks right up to the big green guy and says "Is that all you got?". He is promptly punted into a tree and breaks most of his bones. The second example happens in the tail end of The Avengers. Loki mistakenly believes that Hulk can be threatened into surrendering and is grabbed by the cape and beaten into the ground for his trouble. "Puny god."
- The serial-killing menace in The Car goes out of its way to run down people who taunt it, including plowing through one victim's house.
- As expected, the Cthulhu Mythos has used this trope. However, Lovecraft doesn't involve Cthulhu, or any of the Great Old Ones directly. Instead, it's used with the Great Ones, weak gods of the Dreamlands that can be tricked by smart mortals. However, the Great Ones are protected by the Other Gods, who wreak retribution on those who would disturb their wards.
- Brian Lumley's "The House of Cthulhu" focuses on some barbarians who go to R'lyeh. Their leader dismisses the legend of a star-spawned abomination as a myth to scare away the weak, and believes the "tomb" to hold vast treasures. He's wrong.
- Terry Pratchett's Discworld books contains Rincewind describing Twoflower as such: if total chaos and destruction were lightning, Twoflower is the equivalent of "standing on top of a mountain in a thunderstorm, wearing full copper plate armour, while shouting at the top of your voice "ALL GODS ARE BASTARDS"."
- Hysterically done to Bilbo Baggins in The Hobbit. Bilbo makes this mistake when talking to Smaug. While Smaug can't see him since he's invisible, he can smell Bilbo, as well as hear him breathing, so he's got a good rough idea of where the little hobbit is. Smaug also has fire breath. Bilbo gets somewhat burned for taunting the dragon, and in a rare example of this trope where the person who did the taunting figures out it's a bad idea, is prompted into saying "Never laugh at live dragons, Bilbo you fool!"
- In The Odyssey, Odysseus taunts Polyphemus the Cyclops after having blinded him and escaped back to the ship. An unwise decision on Odysseus' part, since this incenses Polyphemus' father — who just happens to be Poseidon, god of the sea, who ensures that Odysseus doesn't make it back home for another ten years. What really made this unwise is that Odysseus revealed his real name while taunting. If he just had let Polyphemus think it was "No Man" who blinded him, then he wouldn't have suffered for almost ten years.
- A film version had Odysseus taunt Poseidon himself after the destruction of Troy, claiming humans no longer needed gods. After finally having enough of being fate's bitch, Odysseus asked Poseidon what he wanted. Poseidon replied that he merely wanted to show Odysseus that humans will always need gods.
- In the Khaavren romances, Morrolan e'Drien sets off to kill the Physical God Tri'na'gore for various reasons, including that god's followers sacking his adopted home town while he was away. After slaughtering a village full of Tri'na'gore worshipers, Morrolan decides to relieve himself on the god's altar, causing him to manifest so quickly and angrily Morrolan barely has time to button up his pants. This was a bad idea on Tri'na'gore's part.
- In the Harry Potter books, Hogwarts' motto translates to "Never Tickle A Sleeping Dragon". Take from that what you will.
- In The Dresden Files, Harry does this pretty much all the time. Sometimes the "power" he has over the creature in question is that they consider that it would be politically disadvantageous or just impolite to kill him, rather tenuous protections. At one point, when going to ask Odin for help, he thinks of a joke, then remembers that he shouldn't mouth off to his door guards. Then does it anyway, and defends himself by pointing out that he's insulted the faerie queens, vampire courts, and demigods; at this point it's expected of him.
- After a certain point in the series, Harry himself could be considered Cthulhu...
- In the book Ghost Story, Harry makes the mistake of leaving the "el" off of the Archangel Uriel's name. Uriel, who's a cheerful and affable sort, very quickly tells Harry that he does not want to make that mistake again. The Fridge Brilliance behind it: "Uriel" means "Light of God", with "el" being the "God" part. Who else's name meant just "light"? Lucifer.
- I thought it had more to do with Harry's penchant for nicknames combined with the whole "names are powerful" thing.
- "Cthulhu's" reaction? To ask politely to not taunt him again. Also unique (particularly for Harry!) in that it was UNINTENTIONAL.
- The Bible: DON'T take God lightly. There's a reason "Don't take His name in vain" is one of THE Commandments, and many Blasphemous Boasts have been answered. The same goes for His representatives; the best example is probably when a gang decides to start mouthing off to Elisha. They are promptly mauled by bears.
- Actually, "taking the Lord's name in vain" refers to swearing a false oath.
- It's generally a very, very bad idea to mock the deities of Greek Mythology, even if you are also a deity or part-deity. The Greek gods could be very petty and very cruel to those who offended them. (For the most part, they were petty and cruel to everybody, but mouthing off did earn you extra attention.)
- In Everworld, Senna is pretty quick to remind the team that it's nice to stand by your morals but sane people do not anger the trigger-happy gods by refusing to sacrifice a goat. Unfortunately, they don't listen and it takes some very quick thinking by Jalil to get them out of a serious mess.
- In Smallville, Jimmy is dumb enough to taunt Davis Bloome a.k.a. Doomsday.
- The Buffy the Vampire Slayer episode "Fear Itself" has a subversion, where they see the Fear Demon that has been terrifying them all episode be no more than a Barbie doll. Xander starts baby talking him when Giles tells him to "Don't taunt the Fear Demon.". Xander wants to know if it's a threat, but Giles assures him "No. It's just tacky."
Buffy: Oh, look at my poor neck. All bare and tender and exposed. All that blood just pum-ping away.
Spike: Giles, make her stop!
- Buffy is attacked by a vampire on the way home from the burger joint she works at, only for him to back off as she smells awful. The vampire is in the middle of saying he'll just have to try eating her another day when a pissed-off Buffy hurls a stake into his chest.
- In season one of Heroes, Mohinder has Sylar tied up and begins to taunt him. The trope name didn't need to be said for the audience to start saying it.
- Subverted in the Star Trek: The Original Series episode "Space Seed", wherein McCoy taunts Khan who is holding a scalpel to his throat, and Khan indicates afterward that the taunting is what saved McCoy's life.
- Picard learns the hard way that for all his flippancy, Q is still a near-omnipotent being of god-like power. When Q offers to join the Enterprise crew, even going so far as offering to renounce his powers and bring his near-limitless knowledge to their aid, they all but laugh in his face, claiming they are equipped to handle things themselves. With a snap of his fingers Q puts it to the test by hurling them into the path of The Borg. Even if Q wasn't exactly trustworthy, it was a supremely arrogant statement on the part of Picard, and one that ended up costing him not only his pride (having to beg Q to save them), but the lives of several crew-members. Not to mention everyone else who the Borg eventually assimilate or kill in the Alpha Quadrant, the latter including Picard.
- This was eventually revealed as deliberately set-up on Q's part to shatter Starfleet's complacency. The Borg already knew about Earth and had it on the list to be conquered, but the Federation would have been caught completely off-guard without this little demonstration. As for the method, well, an immortal has to have some fun.
- In Star Trek: Voyager, Q takes his son, q, to task for meddling with the Borg.
Q: If the Continuum has told you once, they've told you 1000 times, DON'T PROVOKE THE BORG!
- In the same episode, q at one point seals Neelix's mouth shut. Later on, when his powers are removed temporarily, Neelix feels the need to mock and annoy an individual who may once again gain unlimited power in a week.
- Deadliest Catch
(A few minutes later, a rogue wave washes over the aforementioned boat's deck)
Mike Rowe: It's not wise to taunt the Bering Sea.
- Do not taunt Happy Fun Ball.
- Doctor Who does this with regards to the main character. Half the universe thinks the Doctor is a terrifying, nigh-unstoppable demi-god, and thus invoke this trope whenever someone sets out to deliberately provoke him.
All those stories you've heard about him. They're not stories, they're true. Really. You're not telling me you don't know what's coming.
- In "Dalek", a Mook feels the need to taunt the silly-looking alien.
What, are you going to sucker me to death?
- Like the Doctor, this trope applies to Jack in Torchwood, and when he dies and comes back, Owen to some extent. People underestimate Jack, thinking he's nothing more than an ordinary human, albeit a very annoying one... with over a century of experience in combat, obfuscation and political intrigue. And that's selling him short.
- Angel. Heartbroken Badass Wesley gets drunk and insults Illyria who has stolen the life and body of his former Love Interest 'Fred' Burkle. Illyria is indifferent to the insults, being more saddened by the fact that Wesley doesn't fear and worship her like all humans used to.
- In the final episode Cyvus Vail, after killing Wesley, makes the slight error of taunting Illyria into punching him as hard as she can. She doesn't disappoint.
- Played for Laughs when Wesley has to consult a loa about a prophecy. The Loa takes the form of a giant plastic burger-man outside a fast food joint. Wes starts arguing with the Loa, who promptly zaps him with lightning from its eyes.
Loa: "Your insolence is displeasing."
Wes: (picking himself back up) "You try chatting with a cranky hamburger!"
- In the Series 1 finale of Merlin, Merlin is trying to heal Arthur, but needs to Balance Death's Books in order to do so, something he can't do but Nimueh can. She mocks him about this by going for his mother, and then his mentor. She mocks him outright in their brief duel, telling him his "childish tricks" are useless against her. He explodes her with lightning, and harnesses her life to trade for his mentor's. Anyone with the title " destined to be the most powerful sorcerer of all time" is not to be trifled with.
- Death in Supernatural embodies this trope, and everyone knows it. Dean, who has at one point threatened to hunt freaking God down like he hunts down everything else immediately shuts up in Death's presence. When they mess things up in Season 6 and the Leviathans get out of Purgatory, Death tells Dean what he needs to do to put them back in, Dean snarks for the first time in Death's presence. Death immediately turns around and says "Figure it out.". Dean shrinks down and obeys.
- In The Walking Dead, Carl finds a walker with its feet stuck in the mud by a riverbank, and decides to foolishly stay, throwing rocks at it, then coming in close to shoot it... At which point it manages to wrench one of its legs free, knocking the gun from his hand and nearly catches him before he can get away. Later it makes its way to the farm and kills Dale.
- In Leslie Fish's Filk Song "Bashing the Balrog", a low-level adventuring party attempts to take on the titular balrog, with predictable results. Especially pertinent is this verse:
It is even more foolhardy
For the changed and weakened party
To stare back at the balrog and to say,
"We can zap and we can bite you,
We are quite prepared to fight you,
We suggest you turn around and fly away!"
And that's called insulting the balrog
For balrogs aren't easy to bluff
They know with a competent balrog,
No army is half strong enough\\
- In BIONICLE's Federation of Fear webserial, Carapar tries to attack their world's Cthulhu counterpart Tren Krom, only to get destroyed by one of the creature's laser eyes.
- The Order of the Stick, Strip 275
Thor: How do you like that, you deicidal maniac? Huh? HUH? Now who's so big and tough?
Loki: Dude, don't taunt the god-killing abomination.
- The OotS strip itself was a reference to the most hilarious of the many, many warnings found on the label of the Happy Fun Ball. (see also The Other Wiki).
- Looking for Group, also coincidentally on Page 275.
Richard: How's the magma?
- Tossing him into magma was nice; early on, Richard animated the skeletons of his enemies while they were still alive.
- Gunnerkrigg Court: Coyote gets his nose flicked on this page.
- 8-Bit Theater brings us this conversation between Black Mage and Sarda:
Black Mage: Don't take this the wrong way, but that sounds like crap. Almost as crap-like as Red Mage Here.
Sarda: Are you done belly-achin'?
Black Mage: No,
actually. I would
like to take a moment to note what an odd choice... Oh, what have I done?
Fighter: What's crawling out of Black Mage's mouth?
Sarda: He's just vomiting his entire digestive tract.
- Digger gives us a gem of wisdom by Ed:
(to Sweetgrass Voice
): Mmmm, yes, wasted opportunity, that, very sad. When was that, exactly? Before
Shadowchild tore strips out of you and sent you whining back to your mommy?
Ed: Um... Ed is not being sure if taunting ancient unspeakable evil is being the best idea...
- Bob and George QUIT TAUNTING THE BLACK HOLE
- The Nostalgia Critic used this in his Top 11 Disney Villains video.
- The second through fourth items of the 1001+ Things That The Worst Party In Eberron Is Forbidden From Doing:
2. Do not taunt Cardinal Krozen about his inability to capture/kill the Crew. It's not bad, just tacky.
3. Do not taunt the The Lords of Dust about their inability to capture the Crew. It really should be bad, but it's not. Still tacky.
4. Do not taunt Queen Aurala about her inability to capture the Crew. Otherwise she'll stamp her foot and pout.
- There is a creepypasta floating around the internet called The Willow Men. In the story, the narrator sees fit in his ultimate wisdom to taunt the titular forest spirits, who are widely known to exact justice for perceived wrongdoings. Things quickly go downhill...
- In Caught Not Sleeping, Caught, believing that the Operator symbols being left in his area are just part of some kind of prank, leaves a $20 bill in one of them, playing along and laughing about how stupid the joke was. He then turns around and finds that the very real Slender Man does not enjoy being mocked.
- The Slimer! short "Don't Tease the Sleaze" is pretty much made of this. The eponymous Sleaze is locked in the Ghostbusters' containment unit. Ray cautions Slimer not to taunt it. You know what happens next.
- The line "Flash, stop heckling the Supervillain!" was used in Justice League. The Flash and Green Lantern were watching a villain capable of Mind Control from within a large crowd of innocents that were already under his Mind Control.
- From The Simpsons:
Bart, stop pestering Satan
- On Ed Edd N Eddy:
Rolf: Careful Eddy, do not taunt the doodle!
*Eddy keeps doing so, chicken flips out*
- Ed: DO NOT TAUNT THE CLAW!
- Of course in this case it was reversed as rather harmless Ed was taunting his insane little sister Sarah
- The trope is taken to its most depressing level in Superman The Animated Series. Darkseid is trying to take over Earth. He's captured Superman and it looks like he's going to win. But Dan Turpin steps up, rallies the public, and even manages to free Superman. Then New Genesis shows up to scare Darkseid off. As Darkseid leaves, Turpin shouts taunts after him. Darkseid pauses, then tells Superman that every victory has its price right before vaporizing Turpin in an excellent example of not-played-for-laughs spite.
- In Jumanji The Series, any player who tries to cheat, insult, or damage the malignant game gets randomly transformed into an animal, or gets attacked by its inhabitants. Of course it mostly happens to Peter whether it's his fault or not.
- Avatar The Last Airbender had Zhao, a man who thought that killing the spirit of the moon was a good idea. We don't really know what consequences it ultimately might have had, but it definitely got the ocean spirit to rip apart the Fire Nation fleet.
- South Park has Cartman, who decided to insult and taunt God, for not getting a humancentiPad. He promptly gets a thunderbolt in his face. He got better.
- In the pilot episode of TRON: Uprising, Beck's friend Bodhi mouths off to the Black Guards that have just moved into Argon, claiming not to be afraid of them. He's promptly murdered to demonstrate that, yeah, you totally should be. Didn't quite have that effect on Beck, naturally.
- "Do Not Meddle In The Affairs Of Dragons, For You Are Crunchy And Taste Good With Ketchup." is a spin on the J. R. R. Tolkien line "Do not meddle in the affairs of wizards, for they are subtle, and quick to anger," which is possibly an interpretation of a quote of the even earlier G. K. Chesterton: "Do not invoke the ancient gods, for they annoy very easily."
- The (possible) origin of the "Dragons" version is Bored of the Rings. It has also been attributed to:
- Another version: "Do not tempt Fate; it is fickle and has poor impulse control."
- This one is quite popular on the TF bunny farm: "Meddle not in the affairs of Decepticons for you are squishy and make funny noises when violently deactivated"
- There's also the spoof "Do not meddle in the affairs of Fangirls for you are hot and would go well with other men."
- "Do not meddle in the affairs of bards, for they aren't subtle at all and your name scans to Greensleeves."
- Don't mess with Coyote. He's best friends with God, immortal, capable of shape-shifting, and could very well just kill you outright if he's not in a good mood.
- In one story he uses a bear pelt to turn himself into a bear and brutally kills and eats the hunter who killed him twice before.
- In another story, he's eaten by a giant, who taunts him that he'll starve to death in the giant's belly. Coyote proceeds to carve the giant up from the inside and dine on his guts.
- It's not wise to fool with Mother Nature.
- Or Brother Wolf, or Brother Bear, or even Sister Fox... Even many of the more "cute" wild and domestic critters can seriously mess you up or outright kill you if you mess with them. Remember: The "cute" woodland creatures survive by being able to beat up Brother Wolf... And Brother Wolf can seriously kick YOUR ass.
- Even Little Brother Raccoon will give you some stitches to remember him by. Seriously, they're wild animals, people, not pets. Not that it's a good idea to taunt pets, either.
- Don't try to pet the Australian dingo. It may look like a dog, but it's not. Don't mess with the Black Widow or the Box Jellyfish. Stay away from hippos. Wolverines and Tasman Devils are insane enough to attack bears and poisonous snake out of spite AND LIVE. Don't pet the ostriches and FOR THE LOVE OF GOD be gentle with horses, chimps, and gorillas. Also, orangatuns will rape you if they think you look pretty...
- Do not taunt cows. No, seriously, they kill more people a year than all the above combined.
- Do Not Taunt Zinedine Zidane or this happens.
- Be careful when heckling comedians. They make their money by being witty without boundaries or hesitation, as Jimmy Carr shows.
- Another example: CNBC's Jim Cramer finds out the hard way that you do not want to be on Jon Stewart's bad side.
- After UFC.com is hacked, Dana White taunts Internet hackers to "Keep hacking our site, do it again. Do it tonight." Their response? White's personal information is made public (Social Security number, a list of residential addresses, a VIN and a personal phone number). A tweet from the guy that's taking credit for White's info said "We don't want your site anymore. We are going after YOU!" Do not taunt the Internet.
- On the subject, provoking the wrath of 4chan is a pretty suicidal move. Imagine a hydra-headed enemy that's invisible, invincible, can find you just about anywhere, and will never ever stop fucking you over: that is a pissed-off 4chan in a nutshell.
- 4chan is known for its... NSFW areas, and generally lines are made to be crossed. However, they won't let you break the law in ways that hurt real people. One particular individual posted real child pornography on the site, and another posted threats/plans to bomb a football stadium; they hunted down the posters and reported everything to the police in the area, from the addresses to social insurance numbers.
- Wallace Weatherholt, a tour guide in the Florida Everglades, thought it would be funny to taunt an alligator he had just pushed off his boat by slapping the water. The doctors couldn't reattach the hand.
- During the Manhattan Project, one experiment that was carried out (in this instance using the infamous Demon Core) was officially called "Sub-Critical Mass Assembly". Due to incomprehensibly bad experimental design a barely critical mass was assembled for a few seconds before being pulled apart by the experimenter's effectively bare hands. He died as horribly as you'd expect. The unofficial name for this experiment is "Tickling The Dragon's Tail" (see the Harry Potter example under Literature for a likely reference).