"Dodgeball is a sport of violence, exclusion, and degradation."
It seems that in fiction, whenever a kid goes to gym class, the mean gym teacher
will make them play dodgeball, much to the delight of The Bully
and despair of the nerds and unpopular kids.
Despite not being a particularly dangerous sport in Real Life
, in fiction, dodgeball is as close as you can get to a Blood Sport
without any actual death (...usually.) Somehow, the inflatable balls weigh as much as a ton of bricks in TV Land. It's not uncommon for students to come out of the gym with injuries from nosebleeds to broken bones, and the perpetrators never seem to get in trouble for it
This trope can often seem like Truth in Television
to some kids, which is where the trope comes from in the first place.
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Anime & Manga
- Honoo no Toukyuuji: Dodge Danpei is an entire anime series based on this.
- Mahou Sensei Negima!, chapter 5-6.
- Fate/kaleid liner PRISMA☆ILLYA has an epic dodgeball match between Illya and Dark Illya, complete with a Double Knockout.
- A subarc of the Greed Island arc of Hunter × Hunter involves Gon, Killua, Bisk, Hisoka, and some minor characters in a dodgeball game. The players on the other team throw the ball with sufficient force to break bones.
- The players on the heroes' team, however, are battle-hardened people with lethal superpowers themselves. The captain of the opposing team, Razor, is so powerful that he inflicts The Worf Effect by his mere presence and is the only person shown so far to genuinely put Monster Clown Hisoka on edge.
- Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha A's had a chapter in its supplementary manga where Nanoha and Fate played dodgeball against Alisa and Suzuka. It ended with Fate getting knocked unconscious by a dodgeball thrown by the resident Shrinking Violet, Suzuka.
- Chicken Little. They even divide the teams into "popular" and "not popular".
- In both the original film and musical adaptation of Hairspray, Tracey gets knocked out by a dodgeball. In the new movie, it's a throwaway gag, but in the original it's a major plot point: Link asks her out after it, and Penney and Seaweed bond when they rush over to help her.
- In Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story, the training that the heroes receive is steeped in Serious Business and makes it appear as if dodgeball is hell. The actual sport is pretty childish, which is the point of the film.
- Billy Madison did this when he's against the entire first grade class.
- In the 1981 horror film Fear No Evil, the teenage Antichrist actually killed a fellow student in a game of dodgeball.
- In one of the Babymouse graphic novels, the plot revolves around the title character's dread of an upcoming dodgeball game in PE.
- In the second Percy Jackson and the Olympians book The Sea Of Monsters: At first Percy thinks that gym class is just going to be this but it turns out that the other team is actually made up of giant cannibals, so it actually is a fight to the death.
- And said cannibals are fighting with giant flaming cannonballs, so it's literally hell.
- Played with in Freckleface Strawberry and the Dodgeball Bully. The main character dreads playing dodgeball against a boy named Patrick, who throws the ball hard, but when she actually gets hit, she realizes it doesn't hurt nearly as much as she thought.
- Twilight has Bella dealing with a similar situation in her gym class, which she tried to opt out of but couldn't. Haters just love the panel from the manga showing her get smacked in the face with a volleyball.
Live Action Television
- Comes up in an early Buffy the Vampire Slayer episode, where a gang of toughs (and Xander) get turned into hyena-people.
- Neds Declassified School Survival Guide
- Supernatural: undercover as a gym teacher, Dean forces the kids to play dodgeball. "The whistle makes me their God."
- This showed up in an episode of The Middle.
- Appears in the first episode of Freaks and Geeks, where the titular geeks get pummeled by the jocks on the other team.
- 30 Rock, the episode "Lee Marvin vs. Derek Jeter," Liz goes to a Singles Dodgeball event to look for love and ends up pummeling a cute guy because she's too bitter to try to be nice.
- An episode of Glee features dodgeball in a light-hearted musical number between the New Directions and Troubletones... before it ends with some of the Troubletones viciously pelting the new Foreign Exchange Student with dodgeballs until he starts to bleed. This causes Kurt to change his campaign focus from fighting obesity to banning dodgeball.
- Brady and Boomer were victims of this kind of bullying in flashbacks.
- Battle For Money Sentouchuu is basically this as a game show, with ninja themes and cash on the line.
- In Welcome Freshmen, Coach Roach announces that they'll play dodgeball with a bowling ball. The students talk him into something less dangerous, but still far from fun.
- An artifact in Warehouse13 is a self propelling and multiplying dodgeball that was used in military training under the premise of "if you can dodge a ball, you can dodge a bullet". The only way to stop it from killing you with blunt force trauma is to catch it.
- Law & Order: Special Victims Unit: Finn and Munch once walked into a gym with a game of dodgeball in full swing and shared their memories of it. Finn loved it; Munch, not so much.
- This shows up in ''Foxtrot.
- Calvin and Hobbes transitions out of a Spaceman Spiff escaping-the-alien-starfighters sequence into... dodgeball day in gym class.
- One stage of Osu! Tatakae! Ouendan features a one-on-one dodgeball game between average elementary schooler Torao and his Jerk Jock rival Ryu. Set to Tomoyasu Hotei's "Thrill", and with needlessly awesome visuals out of a kung-fu movie.
- This is as good a reason as any for why gym in Bully focuses on dodgeball and wrestling. (Well, that and game mechanics—winning a wrestling match improves your melee attacks, while helping the nerds beat the jocks at dodgeball improves your ranged attacks.)
- South Park: Pip becomes a Dodgeball savant when he gets pissed off over people calling him French.
- The Simpsons: "Bombardment! Bombardment!" For Christmas they're doing "Double Bombardment!"
- More specifically, that Simpsons episode isn't really dodgeball, it's just the teacher throwing the balls at the students sadistically. The same teacher seems to like throwing things at people in general, because he's shown later throwing rolls at Groundskeeper Willie after Willie got a job in a fancy restaurant (making Willie into a gentleman being the main plot of that episode).
- Total Drama Island had Dodgeball as a challenge for one episode, the characters are near death by the end of it.
- An early episode of Dexter's Laboratory had this with Dexter forced to participate by his gym teacher (he had tried to get out of it with a signed excuse but said teacher ripped it up). Poor Dexter finds himself constantly targeted by bullies every gym class. Eventually it hits Dexter that he is a boy genius and builds a dodgeball mecha to finally get even... only to get beaned on the noggin... by his sister.
- Kick Buttowski has the Emo Kid, and this happens to him a LOT.
- Edd had suffered psychological trauma when he played dodgeball.
- Patrick apparently had a harrowing experience when writing a poem during gym class.
- Happened in one episode of The Fairly OddParents as Timmy arrives at school after missing the bus and having to walk in the rain. He's greeted to gym class by his classmates holding dodgeballs in a game of "Drys vs. Wets", as you can imagine, he's the only one wet there.
- In Invader Zim: 'Bludgeonball! It's fun!
- Recess, in typical fashion, plays this trope to the hilt, including gratuitous slow-motion shots, excessive drama, and an incredibly good player named "El Diablo" *whip noise*.
- Taken to the extreme in Courage the Cowardly Dog, where Eustace arranges for all of Courage's enemies to join together in one big dodgeball game that almost kills Courage.
- In Monsters vs. Aliens, Susan singlehandedly takes on Team Alien on a no-holds-barred game of dodgeball. Seems she channeled her anger at being picked last as a kid into being a relentless dodgeball player; the aliens underestimated her at their peril.
- The episode "Leggo My Meg-O" of Family Guy, starts with all the kids in Meg's high school ganging up on Meg in a game of dodgeball.