"Note to self: berating the invincible alien warlord is unwise."It won't end well. So you're facing a powerful enemy, and you appear to have some sort of power over them? Perhaps you've locked them up, or they're not as terrifying as you thought, or maybe they've lost all their powers. At any rate, you start to taunt them, confident in your victory. And they promptly obliterate you. We repeat: Do. Not. Taunt. Cthulhu. Ever. That is a terrible idea. A Sister Trope to Death by Mocking and Bullying a Dragon. Often overlaps with Tempting Fate.
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Anime & Manga
- Dragon Ball Z:
- In the Battle of Gods movie, Buu is on the receiving end of this trope when he eats two plates of custard that Lord Beerus wanted and then mocks him for it. Beerus responds by blasting him into a lake, then fishing him out and smashing his head against Gohan's.
- In general, anyone who is not a superpowered planet-killing warrior had better be polite when they speak to Shenron. It's implied that he's killed people in the past who took too long to decide on a wish, and in Resurrection F, he lampshades to Sorbet that being rude to the super-powerful magical dragon-god is not a wise idea (Sorbet immediately rephrases his wish to be more polite). The only being that has ever cowed Shenron is the aforementioned Beerus.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- In Attack on Titan, the Survey Corps has a really bad habit of taunting the Female Titan whenever they appear to have the advantage.
- Quattro from Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha StrikerS thought it would be a good idea to piss off Nanoha by torturing her daughter and forcing the two of them to fight each other. As soon as Nanoha found where she was hiding, she responded with a Blaster 3 Divine Buster from the other side of the Saint's Cradle.
- Ryoko does this twice in the Tenchi Muyo! OVAs. The first time, she mocks Ayeka's attempts at torturing information out of her with electrical shocks from her guardians; Ayeka just uses Sword Tenchi's lockout instead, which hurts like a bitch. The second time, Ryoko makes the mistake at laughing at Ayeka's cutesy voice towards her mother, Misaki; Misaki responds by grabbing Ryoko's cheeks and stretching.
- In Claymore the Claymore Teresa is confronted by the chief of a marauding bandit gang. This chief wastes a lot of time showing off the effectiveness and deadliness of his Falcon Sword, the Falcon Sword is allegedly so fast that to the Human eye it's just a blur, it's undodgeable, unblockable and makes the user untouchable, the bandit chief proclaims that Teresa would need luck just to get close and that she's but a sitting duck. Teresa then proceeds to cut him down instantly, without saying a word and without giving the bandit chief even a chance to see what just killed him. And that's what happens when you mess with one of the most powerful characters in the entire series.
- 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. During Underworld Unleashed the demon lord Neron appeared before a gathering of villains and offered them power in exchange for their souls. Neron allowed any villain to leave that didn't want to participate. However, Mongul refused by attacking Neron; Neron brutally killed him, and consumed his soul.
- Doctor Strange foe 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 other side of this as well. Taunting him isn't really advisable, yet people are dead set on picking fights with him. (Loki promptly earned insult to injury, becoming instant Internet meme - which proves that even gods should take this advice to heart.)
- In Thunderbolts, The Leader Samuel Sterns once negotiated a contract with Mephisto with favorable terms for him and the Thunderbolts. The Leader left rather satisfied that he beat the devil at his own game, while Mephisto stewed in frustration. At the end of this run of the series, The Leader is doomed to suffer the Ghost Rider's Penance Stare for the rest of his life as punishment for all the crap he's done throughout the series. Cue Mephisto waltzing in with a new contract in hand. The Leader immediately signs the new contract to escape the Penance Stare. Mephisto sends the Ghost Rider back to Johnny Blaze (much to Blaze's displeasure) and escorts Sterns to Hell while describing all of the tortures he has in mind for Sterns.
- Occurs in the Astro City story "Where the Action Is." After publisher Manny Monkton pisses off a super-villain with his sensationalist stories, he becomes inspired to create a new line of comics dealing with Cosmic Entities, beings who wouldn't care about anything ordinary humans do. Needless to say, it does not end well.
- In Wild's End Mr. Fawkes flips off the alien death robot that is chasing him. It then easily overturns the car he is riding in.
- Lampshaded in Savior Of Demons, where Bulma has no problem taking Frieza down a notch, but even she reflects that it's not such a great idea when Goku isn't standing right there monitoring him.
- Invoked in Shinji And Warhammer 40 K, in a mental note from Shinji to Unit 01.
"Machine spirit. Why are we taunting the Angel?"
- Thousand Shinji: Invoked. Leliel slights Asuka, pissing off Shinji in the process. Shinji asks Leliel if it dares to fight him, and then he realizes that taunting an Angel may not be a good idea.
Shinji: "The ‘other’ as you call her is the master of the world of physical combat, something you disdain, but are you powerful enough to take me, a master of the mind?"
Shinji (thinking): "In retrospect perhaps such taunting was a bad idea if Rei’s commentary on the method of attack used by the Fifteenth Angel is correct."
Shinji:"Hey! I had no idea the situation would evolve like this!"
- In one chapter of the My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic fanfic Progress, Princess Luna, the immortal god-queen of the moon, is tormented with her fear of baseballs by Angel Bunny. In the next chapter, Luna starts to overcome said fear with a little help from Fluttershy and Applebloom, and proceeds to terrify Angel into submission when he tries it again (mainly because he broke her glasses).
- In the Total Drama story, Legacy, when Chef Hatchet leaves Duncan and LeShawna to guard the (currently unarmed and docile) serial killer, he sternly warns them to not taunt the prisoner.
- In Pony POV Series, enraging the Gods is never a good idea, even if generally they're nice folks (if in the Draconequi's case, operating on an alien morality). This is particularly true of Entropy, the female Draconequi Elder, who does not like to be spoken back to and will erase anyone that does.
Celestia: For if a mortal mother's fury is terrible, imagine the wrath of a mother with the power of creation at her hooves.
- The generally kind Goddess of Love Venus' (who's incapable of unjustified malice) son Cupid was killed by a vindictive pony with a Concept Killing Spear. She descended to mortal reality in an Unstoppable Rage and blew a hole through said pegasus before they could even try to use it against her, then reduced said pegasus' house to a molten crater. And it's implied killing them wasn't the end of it, but Celestia never explained exactly what Venus did to her. Just that killing the son of the CONCEPT of Maternal Love was a very bad idea.
- Queen Tiamat, the Dragon's patron deity, is exceptionally polite and generally a nice woman. However, attempted genocide on her people will piss her off, and her resulting Roaring Rampage of Revenge leveled a country.
- Episode 64 of Sonic X: Dark Chaos is basically this trope in episode form. Super Sonic, Super Shadow, and Super Eric all run afoul of Lord Maledict himself, and Sonic ramps his cocky confidence to the max before attacking Satan, believing that they're invincible. Cue villainous Curb-Stomp Battle.
- In the Androids Arc of Dragon Ball Z Abridged, Tien has gotten into the habit of snarking at Vegeta whenever the opportunity arises. Krillin at one point asks Tien is doing it, as Vegeta could very easily kill him, Tien's response?
"At this point, it's a game. If he kills me, he loses. And he knows that."
- Star Wars
- In 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 cyborg 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.
- In Revenge of the Sith, Mace Windu seems to gain the upper hand in a duel against Darth Sidious, also known as Supreme Chancellor Palpatine. He proceeds to repeatedly inform him he's lost, and that his plans have failed. Palpatine then unleashes a storm of Force Lightning against him, which Windu barely holds off (and even then it seems that Palpatine lets him do it in order to scar his own face and fake an unprovoked Jedi attack later). After Windu holds off his first attack, Palpatine then suddenly zaps him again and throws his electrified corpse out the window of his office.
- 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 which simply bounces off his beak. This, of course, pisses him off, and his retaliation almost manages to kill Stuart.
- In Clash of the Titans (2010), 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. The Dragon is memorable for taunting Zeus (i.e. the god of thunder) on a cliff during a thunderstorm by raising his sword toward the heavens. That would be a bad idea without all-powerful beings who get angry at the drop of a hat.
- 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 leg 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.
- When unveiling the mirror in Oculus, Kaylie makes a quick quip about it must have been left hungry for new victims. The mirror follows up that remark with a Mirror Scare.
- Star Trek Into Darkness: Starfleet really shouldn't have woken up Khan.
YOU SHOULD HAVE LET ME SLEEP!
- In Men in Black, both the tow truck driver and the morgue receptionist learn the hard way what a bad idea it is to taunt "Edgar". Though the tow truck driver was backing up his claim with a pistol.
- Towards the end of Licence to Kill, it's safe to say that Franz Sanchez had a bad day. His drug refining facility has been destroyed, the religious cult cover has been exposed, and Bond has now destroyed two of the tankers with millions of dollars worth of petro-cocaine and managed to steal one. The last thing he needs at this point was his snot-nosed financial adviser berating him for messing up a lucrative business.
(Sanchez guns down Truman-Lodge)
- In Dracula Untold, the Ottomans invoked this when the envoy mentioned taking Vlad's son and 1000 boys for their army. Vlad subsequently kills them all.
- X-Men: Apocalypse has the title villain, the most powerful mutant ever, even taken for a god in ancient days, who can manipulate things down to its molecules. Thus, a bunch of guys who threaten Apocalypse, he uses the stone particles on nearby walls for fatal damage; Caliban pulls a gun on him, he disintegrates the firearm and would do worse if Psylocke didn't come to her boss's aid; and when Quicksilver uses his Super Speed to punch Apocalypse repeatedly, he traps the speedster's foot in the ground and breaks his leg.
- 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.
- Philip Jose Farmer's short story The Freshman mentions a Miskatonic University student who wrote a bit of crude graffiti about Yog-Sothoth, and the condition his body was found in.
- Terry Pratchett's Discworld books:
- In The Colour of Magic, 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"."
- Another example is a philosopher mentioned in passing who denies the existence of the gods. They call him "Charcoal" because of the smell.
- Do not meddle in the affairs of wizards, especially simian ones. Not all of them are subtle.
- in Soul Music, a worker comes to complain about the Librarian stealing the wheels off his cart. When he continues to mouth off to Mustrum Ridcully despite the Archchancellor trying to be amicable, he mentions that wizards aren't allowed to use their magic on normal people...at which point he becomes a frog, with Ridcully noting that the aforementioned rule is, by his reckoning, more of a guideline.
- 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.
- Inverted in Death Masks when Murphy meets Harry's mentor, Ebenezar. She is not impressed, and demands brisquely she be the driver since he doesn't have a license in Chicago. Harry tells Ebenezar he better just let her do so, calling the older man 'sir'. Cue Murphy dropping her armload in pure, unfiltered shock at hearing Harry Dresden address someone with authority with respect. She talks to Ebenezar afterwards as if he's on the same level as the Pope.
- 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.
- The War Against the Chtorr. In the short story "Enterprise Fish" an Upper-Class Twit is The Load on an investigation into the eponymous creature, a huge monster fish beached and decaying on the shores of Alaska. He doesn't listen when the protagonist tries to explain that the creature isn't 'dead' as it's actually a colony of creatures, all feeding off the decaying body of their host. The twit starts slapping and then kicking the corpse, only to be swallowed whole by something leaping out of its flesh.
- Animorphs - The heroes are talking to the Ellimist, a benevolent Sufficiently Advanced Alien currently mimicking the form of one of their teenage classmates. When Marco makes a smart remark about this on impulse, the Ellimist takes it in good fun, but Jake notes that Marco probably didn't intend to make fun of someone who could conceivably erase him and his entire ancestry from history.
- In The Southern Reach Trilogy, the twelfth expedition into the Eldritch Location Area X hears a moaning creature in the reeds and decides to taunt it by moaning back at it. When the moaning becomes louder and angrier, they realize that this was perhaps not such a good idea after all, and quickly desist.
- In Stephen King's Carrie, when Margaret finds out that her daughter Carrie has telekinetic powers, she starts calling her a witch in thrall with Satan, quoting "thou shalt not suffer a witch to live" and demanding that she renounce her powers and not go to the prom. Carrie, realizing that she can finally toss her overbearing mother aside and go to the prom anyway, proceeds to do just that. The various film adaptations of the story have her, alternatively, knocking Margaret down on the bed, locking her in the closet, and performing a Psychic Strangle on her. Later, when Carrie returns from her rampage and Margaret tries to kill her, Carrie strikes down Margaret in seconds, using her powers to either squeeze Margaret's heart until it stops beating (in the original book and the 2002 telefilm) or crucify her with kitchen knives (in the 1976 and 2013 films). Still, Margaret was able to land one major hit that, in the book, contributes to Carrie's death later on. And in the '76 and '13 films, Margaret deals Carrie a far more damaging emotional blow after the fact — Carrie's guilt over killing her mother, on top of all the people she killed at prom, drives her to suicide.
- In The Girl From The Well book The Suffering, some kids try performing a ritual to summon a ghost to harmlessly possess a doll. However, they make the mistake of taunting the ghost by nicknaming it "Dumbelina". This pisses it off, disrupts the ritual, and causes the doll it possesses to become a Killer Doll instead of a harmless one.
- Journey to Chaos: It is never a good idea to taunt this world's deities.
- A Mage's Power: Siron Esrah reacts with shock when Eric sasses Tasio because it is "the behavior of madmen to speak with such disrespect to the god of Tricksters!"
- Looming Shadow: Kallen nearly dies from an avalanche and hypothermia because she challenged Snol, the Ice goddess. Later in the same book, Eric is strangled by The Grim Reaper for the same reason.
- Mana Mutation Menace: Order himself, one of the Powers That Be, is called "namagumi" by two elves. The first one is promptly subdued, depowered and captured by what the elves would call a devil; the second one is indulged just long enough to learn that Resistance Is Futile, and then he is subdued and depowered.
- In Smallville, Jimmy is dumb enough to taunt Davis Bloome a.k.a. Doomsday.
- Buffy the Vampire Slayer
- The 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."
- And in "Something Blue":
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, but Khan indicates afterward that the taunting is what saved McCoy's life.
Khan: Where am I?McCoy: You're in bed, holding a knife at your doctor's throat.Khan: Answer my question.McCoy: It would be most effective if you would cut the carotid artery, just under the left ear.
- Star Trek: The Next Generation: 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
Cornelia Marie Crewmember: Is that all you got?
(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.
- Saturday Night Live: 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.
Dorium: 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 do? Sucker me to death?
- This also applies when people underestimate him. Exhibit A, the Family of Blood. They wanted immortality. They got it.
- The 11th Doctor gets a Badass Boast thrown in with it after someone else boasts how Badass they are in The Doctor's Wife.
- In "Dalek", a Mook feels the need to taunt the silly-looking alien.
- 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.
- 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. This is after Dean uses Lucifer's own spell to bind Death. Dean and Bobby try to politely make requests and sometimes demands from Death but always end up stuttering and adding some nice words and/or honorific to the request. After Castiel frees Death and takes off, we have the awkward moment of Death sitting amongst the people who bound him to their service and we get this exchange.
Sam and Bobby look to DeanDean: ... Ahem... umm-Death: Shut up, Dean.Dean nods quickly and shuts his mouth
- 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.
- The Incredible Hulk: Not a good idea to upset someone that can change into a large green monster.
Banner: "Mister McGee, don't make me angry. You wouldn't like me when I'm angry."
- A human hero version occurs in the Agatha Christie's Poirot adaptation of Curtain: Poirot's Last Case: Stephen Norton, on hearing that Hercule Poirot is about to execute him, pulls off a "Strike Me Down with All of Your Hatred" stance, temporarily withholds the amyl nitrite from him when he needs it, (almost) breaks him by talking in a Doomed Moral Victor manner, and attempts to trigger Poirot's Berserk Button by calling him an "old man". It is more than enough to sign Norton's death warrant via Slipping a Mickey and a Pretty Little Headshot.
- When Stephen Colbert interviewed Smaug the dragon on his show in the wake of the third Hobbit movie, Colbert chose to mock Smaug about how thoroughly Bilbo tricked him and how goofy Smaug looked when he lost track of the little hobbit. While Colbert was cackling like a maniac, Smaug decided to teach him a lesson:
Smaug: Oh. Oh, I see. I guess my people didn't tell you.Colbert: ...Tell me what?Smaug: Never laugh at a live dragon, MOTHERFUCKER! [breathes a gout of flame at Colbert and torches the studio]
- 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.
Religion and Mythology
- 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 bunch of kids decide to start mouthing off to Elisha. They are promptly mauled by bears.
- In extra-Biblical Christian legend, there's the Wandering Jew. Y'see, this guy decided it would be fun to taunt Jesus on his way to be crucified. According to the legend, this man is still wandering around to this day, and will be until the Second Coming.
- Also applies to Angels, as well. One person thought it was a good idea to mouth off to Gabriel, which ended poorly. He didn't die or anything, but being mute for 9 months while his wife was pregnant must have been a real pain in the arse.
- 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.)
- When Fergus goes to negotiate the terms of Combat by Champion with Cu Chulainn in the Táin Bó Cúailnge, Etarcomol begs to come along. Fergus allows Etarcomol to accompany him on the condition that Etarcomol keep his mouth shut, as nothing good can come out of taunting an unstoppable demigod as Just a Kid. So naturally, the Etarcomol decides to taunt the unstoppable demigod, challenge the unstoppable demigod to a duel, and insist on continuing the Duel to the Death after the unstoppable demigod kicks his ass three times in a row and tells him to scram.
- In the Prologue to Cavalli's opera La Didone, Juno warns mortals not to offend the gods, because 'swift or slow, vengeance is certain'. Given that she's just engineered the destruction of Troy because one of its princes didn't name her the most beautiful goddess ever, we know to take her at her word.
- In Boyce's opera Peleus and Thetis, the two title characters are a human prince and a goddess respectively, and are in love. But Jupiter is also in love with Thetis, and doesn't take kindly to a human rival:
Presumptuous slave, rival to Jove,
How dar'st thou, mortal, thus defy
A goddess with audacious love
And irritate a god with jealousy?
Presumptuous mortal, hence!
Tremble at omnipotence!
- 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.
- In the first SpongeBob SquarePants game, you are warned, "It's not a good idea to antagonize the Dutchman right now."
- In StarCraft on a certain installation mission, a pair of marines are shooting at some zerglings in a pen. One complacently states "Hehe, they're not so tough, they bleed too." Subsequently the base is overrun by zerg.
- In a similar type of mission in the Brood War Expansion. When the base gets overrun by Zerg, your squad will eventually come across a group of Ultralisks trapped in a pen. One of the marines will say, "Well wouldya look at that! They're trapped!" And they really are.
- It is played straight in the demo (which is set before the events of the retail game), where after a marine says the same thing, the zerg units escape through a door that opens right then and there.
- Left 4 Dead: As any experienced player will tell you, do not startle the Witch!
- In Team Fortress 2, There is only one golden rule if you're near a Heavy: NEVER touch his weaponry, especially his Minigun whom he calls "Sasha", or else he will mow you down with it. It's also dangerous if you kill his assisting Medic.
- In Clive Barker's Jericho, poor Cole decides to inform the team that the Firstborn is going to unleash some crazy awesome reality bending magical shit. As thanks, he implodes her mortal form.
- After solving a conflict between a priestess of Umberlee and some followers of Talos, the hero of Baldur's Gate notes that "Gods are not to be trifled with. They trifle back."
- In Metroid Prime, on one of the Space Pirates terminals you can read "Science Team reminds all personnel to refrain from antagonizing Metroids. Severe penalties will be enforced for all violations of this order." Similarly, the Chozo warn against defacing their artifacts lest the offenders "face [their] wrath, unfettered and raw." Meta-Ridley missed the memo. The Space Pirates were also warned to refrain from feeding the Metroids pet food, as they can't digest solid food and get sick (and more irritable) from eating it. Do not food-poison Cthulhu?
- Subverted in Arcanum. One of the end-game characters in a giant, humanoid dragon. Logic would suggest not pissing this creature off. However, as you can learn earlier in the game, this creature is actually a human who transformed himself with magic and a huge coward. Puff up your chest (or mention Nasrudin, the wizard who locked him up in the final dungeon in the first place) and he'll be cowed instantly. Even better, he's one of the few characters in the game you can't provoke to attack you through dialogue. Keep threatening and insulting him all you like, he won't raise a talon.
- The Neverwinter Nights module A Hunt Through the Dark contains a dream sequence in which your character is visited by and receives new powers from Lolth. Talking back to Lolth is a really, really bad idea. As is talking back to Piwiewen in the opening scene. The Neverwinter Nights 2 module The Maimed God's Saga allows your character, a cleric of Tyr, to talk to Malar, god of savagery, through a portal to his home plane. Mouthing off at the end of the conversation results in him attempting to blast you out of existence through the portal. Only a Deus ex Machina from Tyr saves your life.
- The Legend of Zelda
- In The Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening, do not fight the chickens. Also applies to most of the subsequent games where Cuccos (the chickens) are present. In Wind Waker, it's "Do not taunt the big black pig" instead.
- Also in The Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening, the miniboss steals the dungeon's key item after fleeing from a battle with Link. He even leaves a note in the treasure chest taunting Link into finding him and battling him for said item. Unfortunately for the miniboss, Link is able to find all of his suspiciously empty hiding spots, no matter where he flees to. Ultimately, he runs out of "hiding spots" and battles Link once more--this time to the death. Naturally, since the player is quite used to him by now, his ass is quickly handed to him. What's notable about this is that, since his hiding spots are so out-of-the-way (the last one, in fact, requires backtracking to a place that most players would otherwise have never returned to!), if he hadn't stolen the item, Link would probably never want to kill him, and thus his unnecessary act of cruelty was what really forced Link to kill him FOUR times.
- In one of the Extra Missions for Pokémon Ranger: Guardian Signs, a berserk Arceus is tearing shit up, and Purple Eyes tries to appeal to it in an attempt to wipe everything else out. Once the player has calmed Arceus down, it disappears to its home plane...and takes Purple Eyes with it. Says something about how all sorts of really nasty villains exist throughout the Pokéverse, and this is the guy deemed unfit for the mortal plane.
- In City of Heroes there are classes and powersets that include a Taunt power. Tankers are especially encouraged to taunt high-level villains... including gods.
- Yuuto lacks what might be considered proper respect for the godlike Wisdom in Eien no Aselia. As in, he insults it, berates it and ignores it whenever possible. Not that he has no respect, he's just rude in general.
- In Brütal Legend, when confronting Doviculus Lars Halford boasts about his status as the Big Good. In return, Doviculus impales him with his weapon and notes that it was easier than he thought.
- At one point in Planescape: Torment, you find a little doll that looks like the Lady of Pain. You have the opportunity to mock it. You can mock it repeatedly, even. This is incidentally one of the few ways for you to get permanently killed. The Game Over message even reads "You just tested your immortality on the wrong Power, berk."
- Additionally, as the byproduct of extraordinarily powerful necromantic magic, it may not be a good idea for the Nameless One to offend Lothgar, Keeper of Skulls.
- Morte, one of the companions, has an ability called Litany of Curses that when used on an enemy causes him to spout a random insult at it. If you attempt to use it on some of the most powerful enemies in the game, such as The Fiend From Mordor's Box, in place of his normal insult Morte will instead say "No way, I am not taunting that!"
- Played with in Dragon Age II. Knight-Commander Meredith clearly sees herself as The Hero and despite her mandate to track down Apostates, she allows Mage Hawke to continue roaming freely around Kirkwall. It's heavily implied that Meredith doesn't want a riot for arresting the people's Champion, not to mention the fact that even if she managed to get Mage!Hawke in chains, she'd likely lose hundreds of Templars during the attempt. Anders and Merril are likewise protected due to their association with Hawke, regardless of Hawke's class.
- In Psychonauts, you can use your Psychic Powers on a large variety of things, including the teachers who taught you the techniques. Doing so will not make them attack you back, but they note that they certainly could:
Cruller (after being picked up with telekinesis): "Yes, very good. Now try it on something that won't make your head explode when you make it mad!"
- At the start of the Fallout: New Vegas DLC Dead Money, you wake up without your equipment and with a shiny bomb collar around your neck. Father Elijah tells you (via the holographic display in the fountain) that he had it placed there, that you may go free if you do what he tells you, and that he won't hesitate to blow your head up if you refuse to play along, or try to get smart with him. You have a dialogue option to refuse rather rudely. Choose it, and he will blow your head up. Hey, what did you expect would happen?
- In a MMORPG, it's never a good idea to mock the Random Number God, because it may mess up your day or deny you gear drops. Don't shower it with praise either, that only pulls its attention on you. Or casually mention it in chat. Or ignore it. Who knows what really sets it off to begin with?
- In Evil Genius, you can capture enemy agents and taunt them for points (at a small risk of them escaping). If you capture a Super Agent, your Evil Genius will go out of their way to do this, the Super Agent will escape, and assuming they don't kill you right then and there, they will blow up half your base on their way out.
- In Episode 5 of The Wolf Among Us, Bloody Mary deliberately toys with Bigby during their fight in an attempt to bring out the true Big Bad Wolf. She succeeds, as Bigby transforms into a Stegosaurus sized wolf and slaughters her. Hilariously enough, at the start of Episode 1, the Woodsman tries to do the exact same thing.
"I know you're in there! Come on out, you fucking dog!"
- With the Woodsman, he is at least justified, in that he is one of the few people who can actually match Bigby.
- 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.
- Looking for Group, also coincidentally on Page 275.
Gnome Guard: Heh. Looks like the powerful warlock isn't at his best.Richard: Seriously?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: When Antimony flicks Coyote's nose, she gets a reminder that however friendly they come across, Physical Gods are not to be trifled with. Unusually for this trope, she watches his display calmly and stays for a chat after. Shortly after, when she accidentally pushes Ysengrin's Berserk Button, it's much more serious.
- 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:
Digger (to Sweetgrass Voice): Mmmm, yes, wasted opportunity, that, very sad. When was that, exactly? Before or after 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. He apparently didn't learn his lesson, as he does it again to the "Good Witch of the Woods" in Suburban Knights.
- 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 (a waggish reference to the meme that Slendy chases people because they owe him money), 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 protagonist Blake has a bad habit of doing this when cornered in Pact. Considering that one of the beings in question is a literal manifestation of Conquest and close to a god and another is a Sphinx who dislikes smartmouths, that is a bad thing.
- Lizbeth's dad, from Raising Angels, taught her not to do this.
- In Aventures, Viktor responds to an avatar of Death's pourparler with "Make it quick, I don't like speaking to an heresy such as you". Cue Viktor being stabbed as a guarantee that the group won't break their deal.
- 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:
Marge: Bart, stop pestering Satan!
- In the very same episode, Homer pounds on Satan's Berserk Button with a singsong chant of, "I'm smarter than the Devil! I'm smarter than the Devil...!"
- 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!
- In another episode:
- 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.
- The Legend of Korra; during their one-on-one duel near Zaofu in Season 4, Kuvira confidently tells Korra that she's free to use all the elements, even the Avatar State. While Korra initially does poorly when only using the elements, she wipes the floor with Kuvira after she enters the Avatar State, was a few seconds away from turning her into a stain on the ground, and only stopped when she hallucinated Kuvira to be Dark Korra.
- 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. By the same token, taunting Cartman is an exceedingly bad idea. Just ask Scott Tenorman.
- 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, under any circumstances, taunt Brock Sampson of The Venture Bros. Seriously, don't.
Doctor Orpheus: Sooo, anybody who doesn't immediately give you respect, you murder?
- In Adventure Time, a group of Prismo's friends show up at a party to ridicule the Lich, who has been stuck in a dormant state in the former's Time Cube. Justified, as Prismo and his friends are all Physical Gods, so they're all safe. Except they're totally not, so the Lich ends up killing Prismo.
- In one episode of Courage the Cowardly Dog, Eustace has the balls to mock the ghost of an Egyptian pharaoh after it used all of it's curses on the Bagges. Guess where that leads him.
- "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.