Fandom Berserk Button

In every community for every series, there are common mistakes. Someone could use the wrong spelling of a character's name, or think that the title referred to the main character, or insist on spreading a rumor about the plot until everyone believes it, or pigeon-holing fans into negative stereotypes.

Sometimes, it goes further than just "dislike", though. Sometimes it crosses into Berserk Button territory; and the reaction is disproportionate rage at the offender.

Notice: Remember, it's just a show, you should really just relax. Acting out on such relatively minor things will make you look petty at best.

This isn't always bad, though, at least not concerning examples of Critical Research Failure that can lead to an Audience-Coloring Adaptation that can tank the reputation of a work.

See Also: Cowboy BeBop at His Computer (when media gets the facts wrong), Fandom Heresy, I Am Not Shazam, Internet Backdraft, Refrain from Assuming (when a song title is different from its lyrics), Serious Business, Flame Bait, and Broken Base.


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    Comic Books 
  • There's sometimes confusion about whether it's Watchmen or "The Watchmen". This provoked a lot of fan-rage when the movie came out, especially because "watchmen" was an Arc Word in the comic, and became the name of a superhero team in the movie. (In the comic, Captain Metropolis's team is called "The Crimebusters".)
  • This sometimes happens regarding Lex Luthor's name in Superman media, particularly Justice League Unlimited. A talk show host interviewing Luthor, who happens to be running for President at the time, pronounces it Luther, while in another episode Superman gets it right by forcing the 'thor' part. It's also hard to shake Ned Beatty's unforgettable Brooklynite rendition in Superman: The Movie, "Mistah Loo-Toah!"
  • Making character calls about the modern versions of DC superheroes by using evidence from before Crisis on Infinite Earths (unless you're talking about a large number of specific characters who died during/weren't rewritten by the event) is a great way to get everyone on the forum to laugh their asses off. A big example is citing that Batman uses guns and kills, things that were phased out incredibly quickly are very obviously not canon.
    • Also, mixing up which of said rewritten characters had their pasts completely wiped, which ones were rebooted in a modern setting, and which ones had their continuity subjected to Broad Strokes, and how broad those strokes are for each character and each past event, will earn you just as much ridicule. Yes, keeping up with comic continuity is widely known to be a bitch, but this is widely considered basic knowledge that comes right after figuring out which characters belong to Marvel and which to DC.
  • Batman has Ra's Al Ghul. According to Denny O'Neil, his name was originally meant to be pronounced 'Raesh'. While the phrase "head of the demon" does indeed translate into "ra's al-ghuul" in real Arabic (suggesting the character's name is NOT supposed to consist of a made-up language), the pronunciation does not contain the sounds "i" or "sh". In Batman Begins it's pronounced 'Rahs', which is much closer to the actual pronunciation. Still, pronouncing it in any way other than 'Raesh' will attract much ire from fans. In Batman Beyond, Terry is "corrected" by Talia actually Ra's after pronouncing it "Rahs".
  • Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles:
    • In regards to Mirage Comics-based Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (or the early IDW issues), asking why all of the Turtles are wearing red, or "why they're all Raph", or any indication that their original bandana color is weird and foreign.
    • Likewise, mixing up the Turtles' names, or calling something that's not even one of their names ("Galileo", "Yoda", etc.)
    • Raph and Mikey tend to get their shortened names spelled wrong - as "Ralph" and "Mickey".
  • Batman
    • "So why doesn't he just kill the Joker?" This has been such a sticky subject for fans that comic writers and even the Batman: Arkham Series have adapted this topic.
    • Similarly, "isn't Batman just as crazy as his villains?"
  • For fans of the Disney Ducks Comic Universe, featuring Donald Duck and Uncle Scrooge, particularly old-school fans of Carl Barks' work: Referring to the comics as "DuckTales (1987) comics" or primarily associating characters like Scrooge, Gyro or the Beagle Boys with DuckTales is a sure recipe for a fan rant.
  • Ant-Man:
    • Want to piss off Marvel Comics fans, especially Ant-Man fans? Call Hank Pym a wifebeater. Given how grossly such a statement oversimplifies the incident in question and the fact that neither the writers nor the haters ever shut up about it, this is rather understandable.
  • One that applies to a lot of the DC fanbase but also specifically for the Flash fanbase is saying Superman is faster than any Flash that's not Jay Garrick. Not that people didn't have fun with the stories where that was a plot point, it's just acknowledged that having the Flash be faster than Superman is just better for the Justice League's dynamic, as well as making Superman less overpowered.
  • Saying to fans of non-superhero comics that non-cape comics aren't "real" comics. Similarly, instantly thinking "comic book" is synonymous with "superhero"; just because one is the dominant genre in a medium, it doesn't mean it's all they are. This is often due to Values Dissonance; America mostly favors superhero comics while other countries favor other genres.

  • The editor of one early (late 1970s) British computer magazine persistently claimed that the difference between compilers and interpreters was "academic", even in the face of corrections from knowledgeable readers, until one month he learned the hard way just how wrong he was, by wasting three pages of the mag on a worthless hex-dump of the workspace of a BASIC interpreter. The mag didn't last very much longer after that issue.

    Films — Animation 
  • Just go on any board where anyone is talking about Coraline and refer to it as a Tim Burton movie. To be fair, however, it can be argued that this is not their fault, considering that all of the advertising proclaimed "From Henry Selick, the director of The Nightmare Before Christmas." Many people think Burton directed that film, but he actually only produced it and worked on its story.
  • Don't mistake Paranorman for a Tim Burton movie.
  • Mistaking a CGI Disney film like Wreck-It Ralph or Bolt for a Disney-Pixar film is not wise around animation fans. In particular, Planes is a spinoff created by Disney Toon Studios (mostly known for their direct-to-video sequels, prequels, and midquels) and is not a Pixar movie - but it doesn't stop many people from mistakenly blaming Pixar for it.
  • Anastasia is not a Disney movie (though there is a red-headed Disney character named Anastasia).
  • Don Bluth worked at Disney for a while in the 70s, which includes working on the short The Small One. However, call a post-departure Don Bluth movie a Disney movie when there are Don Bluth fans around. You'll be sure to irk someone.
  • Calling all animated films as only for little kids is sure to spark some kind of backlash, as plenty of animated films are rather mature. It is a medium, not a genre after all. Calling The Lion King a little kids' film that nobody should cry at is a surefire way to elicit a reaction along the lines of "Have you even seen the film?".
  • Frozen:
    • Don't call Elsa "Princess Elsa". Aside from the beginning of the film where she is a princess (though never referred to as such), she is Queen Elsa, and making the mistake of calling her "Princess" will cause backlash.
    • Don't call her a villain either. Yes, she was originally written as one and maybe some of her actions are questionable, even if they're accidents, but the fandom will not take kindly to Elsa being called a villain.
    • Confusing her with Rosalina isn't a good idea either.
    • An easy way to get a rise out of Frozen fans is to say Anna is a ripoff of Rapunzel and Disney can't design female characters anymore. Honey Lemon from Big Hero 6 faces similar debates.
    • Anna is not a ginger. She has strawberry blonde hair.

  • Simplifying basically any event in history for whatever means will usually get you flamed by history enthusiasts, especially those in the know. Expect the flames to be white-hot if you have an agenda behind giving half-informed history info as "fact."
  • Confusing any of the major Central-and-South American empires with one another will probably result in a history aficionado doing their best impression of the infamous "tearing the still-beating heart from the chest" blood ritual on you.
  • When talking about Scottish history to a learned person, do not bring up Braveheart in any context other than a negative one. Then everyone can have a nice eye-rolling session and move on with the discussion.
  • Don't deny genocides and other crimes against humanity — for example, those committed by the Ottoman Empire against the Armenians during World War I, by the Axis powers (like Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan) during World War II, by the USSR under Josef Stalin, etc. Just don't do it. People will hate you, and they'll be right to hate you. In several countries, denying The Holocaust is outright illegal, and people can be and have been successfully prosecuted for it. On a related matter, don't say that six million people died in the Holocaust unless you are specifically referring to the Jewish death count. If you are talking about the total death count, the correct number is between twelve million to seventeen millionnote . This can be a very touchy subject to people who belong to the various non-Jewish groups that Those Wacky Nazis tried to exterminate (like the Romani, the LGBT community, and the disabled, to name just a few).
  • Also, do not claim World War II was won by your country only and the other Allies were just a sideshow, no matter what country you live in. This berserk button keeps being pushed by Americans and Russians alike, but Russians and other post-Soviets have it worse: The USSR was first allied with the Third Reich since 1939, and conquered half of Central Europe, before being forced to switch sides in 1941, and fighting against the Reich for the remainder of the war. It should be emphasized that the Eastern Front became the largest meat grinder in history of war.
  • Say either British North America or the United States won the war of 1812 and you'll start a complete havoc between history buffs attacking you for simplifying the event and from sensitive patriotic folks unwilling to accept that their country lost the conflict. If you're really eager to anger some people, insinuate that it (or any part of the American Revolutionary War) was nothing more than a proxy war between Britain and France and the arguing will go nuclear.
  • US history, 1860-1865 (from the secession of South Carolina to Appomattox). By now you can probably get away with calling it "the American Civil War" and be fairly confident that anyone who "corrects" you is a nutjob or pretending to be (alternatives include "The War Between the States" which, while pro-Confederate, is semi-neutral, and "The War of Northern Aggression" and "Treason in Defence of Slavery", which are unabashedly partisan). If you say that it was about slavery (or, alternatively, that it was about "States' Rights"), you should still be prepared for arguments even a century and a half later.
  • 1768, May the 15th: the Republic of Genoa yields the isle of Corsica to the Kingdom of France. 1769, August the 15th: birth of Napoleone di Buonaparte. 1779, May the 15th: Napoleon Bonaparte joins the Military School of Brienne, in Northeastern France. So yes people, Napoleon was French, not "Corsican" or "Italian"; saying that to a Frenchman's face is akin to telling an American that because he was born in the British colony of Virginia, George Washington isn't "really" American.
  • Go to a Medieval aficionado/scholar and try talking to him about "The Dark Ages", or anything likewise. If you're lucky, you'll get a week-long lecture about the cultural, intellectual and social transformations that took place in those thousand years of history; if you're not, you'll get a longsword shoved in the face.
  • Equally, don't bring up The Da Vinci Code or anything similar around a Crusades historian or an expert on the Military Orders (e.g. the Templars). Just don't.
  • For the love of whatever deity you do or don't believe in, don't try and claim that the Roman Empire ended in the 5th century AD around a Byzantinist. If you are lucky, you will get a several hour long lecture explaining how, in fact, the Western Roman Empire fell, while the Eastern Roman Empire survived as a continuous polity in the form of the Byzantine Empire until 1453, reconquered large chunks of the West at various points, and remained a military superpower until approximately 650 AD, with resurgences between c. 850 and 1050, and to a lesser extent, 1100 and 1180, and a significant regional power/cultural and economic superpower until at least 1204.
    • Also, don't call Istanbul by its old name of Constantinople unless you're referring to a time before the name was changed. Equally, don't call it Istanbul before the 20th century.
  • Claiming that Christopher Columbus was trying to prove the Earth is round and nobody would fund him because they thought he would fall off the edge will at best get an exasperated lecture about how Columbus was really just a lucky idiot. The book that originally made the claim that he was trying to prove the Earth is round was a work of historical fiction written specifically to mock people who refused to accept the theory of evolution, but the guy who wrote the school textbooks in the fifties and sixties missed that part. The shape of the Earth has been known since about the fifth century B.C. The real reason no one would fund Columbus was because he grossly underestimated the size of the Earth (Columbus has no excuse for that either, since the circumference of the Earth was calculated not very long after the shape was confirmed). Nearly everyone Columbus sought out to fund his voyage was smart enough to realize that his logistics would have his ship run out of food and drinkable water at about the halfway point, which is exactly what happened. It was just sheer dumb luck that there happened to be two large, previously unknown landmasses at that exact point.
    • Claiming that Columbus discovered the Americas should result in people pointing out that the Americas were already inhabited when he arrived, and even if they're only counting Europeans finding the place, the Norse unquestionably beat him by about 500 years and there's some evidence Basque, Portuguese and English fishermen were operating out of Newfoundland before his trip. And don't even think about associating him with the U.S., since Columbus never even saw any of the territory that would later make up that country.
  • It's "April Fools'" (with the apostrophe after the "s"), not "April Fool's" (with the apostrophe before the "s") or "April Fools" (with no apostrophe at all).
  • Please for the love of God, do not bring up any political agendas and dragging in history or historical figures that results in contributing to their Historical Hero Upgrade or Historical Villain Upgrade, or vice versa relating certain aspects of the historical frame to whatever social/modern problems with presentism or modern judgments. The results will be nasty.

  • Do not imply that Cantonese, Hokkien, Teochew, Shanghainese or any other variant of Chinese is a 'dialect' of Mandarin and thus somehow 'not a real language' - not only will that earn you the ire of its speakers (who will eagerly point out all the ways that the type of Chinese they speak differs from Mandarin), but also of anyone well versed in linguistics. note 
  • On a related note, saying that Czech and Slovak are essentially the same language isn't recommended either. note 
  • Do not confuse Flemish Dutch with Standard Dutch.
  • Don't confuse Danish, Swedish and Norwegian with each other.
  • For the love of whatever deity (or lack thereof) that you believe in, do NOT claim that Afrikaans as a 'simplified version of Dutch' - Afrikaans has developed grammatical rules unique to it and is a language in its own right.
  • Do not refer to Catalan as a 'Spanish dialect' - it is a completely separate language that developed out of the vulgar Latin spoken by the Romans who colonised the present-day Tarragona area.
  • If you're in Brazil, please don't try to speak Spanish to the natives there. They speak Portuguese.
  • Sign languages are most certainly real languages, with their own grammatical structure and vernacular.

  • In one series of Harry Turtledove books (known, alternatively, as TL-191 or the Southern Victory series), a Confederacy that survives into the 20th century is taken over by the dictator Jake Featherston, who is a Hitler analog. For some reason, people insist on misspelling it as "Featherstone". This really pisses off fans, but what really got people mad was when the misspelling appeared on the freakin' dustjacket of one of the books.
  • Referring to any of the books of the Inheritance Cycle as a "brick" can actually get you in trouble with the staff in some quarters. But in other places, even on fansites, the staff call them "bricks" too, but used as a term of affection rather than ridicule.
  • Older Than Radio: In Mary Shelley's Frankenstein; or, The Modern Prometheus, Victor Frankenstein constructs and brings to life his Creature or, if you prefer, Monster. The Creature itself is never named. Thanks to many films, comics and stage plays running the whole gamut of quality, people have been using the term "Frankenstein" to refer to his Creature (and being criticized for it) since the 19th century, to the point that using "Frankenstein" without clarifying immediately makes people think that you're erroneously referring to the monster! For example, Monster High got called out on this when it first came out and still does. It's a weird situation, because Frankie is indeed the daughter of the Monster and his Bride, but the Monster learned mad science from his creator, and in turn created his daughter.
  • Some fans of that lady who wrote the Pern books are rather grumpy about "McCaffery", probably because her last name was "McCaffrey".
  • J. R. R. Tolkien
    • Some fans of Tolkien are grumpy about spelling his surname "Tolkein" or pronouncing it "Tol-kin", "Tol-kyen" or "Tolky-yen" rather than "Tol-Keen". And even spelling "Middle-earth" as "Middle-Earth" in extreme cases.
    • Referring to The Lord of the Rings as a trilogy.
    • Whenever someone mispronounces Smaug's name, usually gets this reaction. The correct way is "sm-ow-g", not "smog". Ditto Sauron (first syllable rhymes with "sour," not "soar") or any proper name beginning with the letter C (always a hard-c or "k" sound, never a soft-c or "s" sound) (e.g. Cirdan or Celebrimbor).
    • And never bring up the question "If the Eagles could fly them out of Mordor and they're in Gondor an hour later, why couldn't they have flown them in, saves all that hazardous trekking for weeks." Hardcore LOTR fans do not like this. note 
  • Many of the fans of the Warrior Cats series will scream (or at least groan) should you make the mistake of not capitalizing the word "Clan". There are four Clans (five if you count SkyClan). The main characters are in ThunderClan. Their ancestors are StarClan. And don't you dare suggest otherwise. Perhaps justified in that this is pounded into your brain for over twenty books, and not bothering with grammar rules automatically gets you labeled as an idiot on the major forum.
    • Not to mention capitalizing the second part of a cat's name; it's Firestar, not FireStar.
  • Lewis Carroll:
    • In the world of Hunting of the Snark, if your snarknote  happens to be a boojum, "you will softly and suddenly vanish away, and never be met with again." Not "softly and silently". This did cause arguments way back then, with one fan, Snarkophilius Snobbs, becoming infamous for persisting with this misquote.
    • In the presence of hardcore Carrollians, never refer to the Hatter as the Mad Hatter, or to the Jabberwock as the Jabberwocky.
    • Even more than the above, though, for the love of life don't claim Carroll was a pedophile, repressed or otherwise. Or on drugs. Given the nature of most Carrollians, though, you're less likely to get flamed and more likely to be firmly sat down for a Wall of Text essay on how whichever myth you claimed as truth came to be, and a healthy helping of evidence debunking it.
    • The above also applies to J.M. Barrie, who has been on the record as Not A Pedophile since around the time of his death.
  • Harry Potter fandom is large and diverse enough that almost anything is acceptable in some circles, but in general the following rules hold:
    • Electric technology at Hogwarts isn't permissible in any dose. Things that work electronically, like anything that runs on batteries, do not work. Things that work mechanically, such as Harry's watch, are okay.
    • Hermione's name is Hermione. Unless you're Grawp or Viktor. There are absolutely no other exceptions. "Hermy" is an elf from Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer.
  • Cthulhu Mythos: What the Elder Sign looks like - a star or a tree. Problem is that in different stories it is described as either. Mocked in the musical A Shoggoth on the Roof where in the opening a fight breaks out over this question. 'Star!' — 'Tree!' — 'Star!' — 'Tree!'...
  • P. G. Wodehouse's Jeeves is a valet, not a butler. Not that you can exactly be blamed for making the mistake, since it even occurs on book jackets. That he can and has acted as a butler (one book has him as one for a temporary stint) confuses the matter further.
  • George R.R. Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire:
    • While not likely to get you flamed, referring to the series as "Game of Thrones" (the title of the HBO show based on the series which takes its name from the first book) is a good indicator of what kind of fan you are.
    • Don't refer to Asha as Yara unless you want to be laughed at. Also, it's Jon, not John; Robb, not Rob; Grey Wind, not Greywind; and Shaggydog, not Shaggy Dog.
    • Daenerys has several. Her name is Daenerys, not Danaerys; some people make this mistake because her father was Aerys. She is nicknamed Dany, not Danny or Dani. And "Khaleesi" is one of her titles, but should never be treated as if it's her actual name.
  • Don Rumata from Hard to Be a God is not a Progressor, and don't refer to him as a Progressor in the presence of Strugatsky Brothers fan.
  • In the Star Wars Expanded Universe, even mentioning Mandalorians as having a philosophical point is a good way of inducing vitriolic backlash (or terrible debates) in some circles.
  • Any fan of The Hunger Games will not take kindly to comparisons with Battle Royale. Likewise, don't make the mistake of referring to Catching Fire and Mockingjay as Hunger Games 2 and Hunger Games 3, or calling Peeta Mellark Peter! And for the sake of whatever you hold holy, don't compare it to Twilight.
  • Fans of Tess of the d'Urbervilles tend to go ballistic over the way the book was treated in Fifty Shades of Grey. It is not recommended to ever try to present the way EL James understood Tess as correct.
  • Malazan Book of the Fallen:
    • The book was written by Steven Erikson, not Steve Erickson, Stephen Erickson, or even Erik Stevenson. Have the decency to take a look at the cover.
  • Terry Pratchett fans love discussing the many references and homages in his work, especially the Discworld novels. Using a phrase such as "nicked this bit from..." is another matter, and may result in irony being deployed, especially if you're talking about a work that actually postdates Discworld, or a concept that existed in many forms before Sir Terry used it. If it's Harry Potter, just stop now.

  • Do not confuse Iceland with Ireland. Otherwise, Icelanders might throw you into one of the island nation's volcanoes.
  • Confusing Australia with New Zealand is not suggested either.
  • Don't mix up Australia with Austria.
  • Don't try to imply that Hong Kong is the same thing as Mainland China. note  In fact, don't refer to Hong Kong, Macau or Taiwan as China - China is usually taken to mean 'Mainland China' and referring to any of the first three places as '(Mainland) China' is a really good way to piss off Hong Kongers, Macanese and Taiwanese alike (and, in most cases, send them off on a diatribe about how HK/Macau/Taiwan is different from Mainland China).
    • Similarly enough, implying that China is a homogenous country (ethnically, culturally or linguistically) will earn you the ire of anyone who has more than a passing familiarity with China. Officially, China recognises 55 ethnic minorities, each of which have their own unique traditions and practises. Even the Han Chinese majority are divided into many, many different subgroups. As for languages, there are actually hundreds of different languages spoken in China (see the Languages Folder for more). Oh, and don't get started on the SARs as well as Taiwan, the mere mention of which usually ends up opening an entirely new can of worms.
  • Africa is not a country, it's a continent with multiple countries. Same goes for Europe.
  • Be careful when you state that Ukraine is the same as Russia in front of Ukrainians... they will kill you.
  • Don't mistake Canadians for Americans. Besides disrespecting hockey, that's the fastest way to strip away Canada's signature friendliness.
  • For rather obvious reasons, it is a bad idea to mix South Korea up with North Korea.

  • Don't call it "tilting" instead of "nudging". Pinball enthusiasts will remind you that "tilting" is what happens when you excessively nudge the table and void your current ball as a result.

  • Some physicists and mathematicians hate when you mispronounce "Euler", and saying it as "you-ler"note  will earn you the ire from anyone who generally knows who he was. Case in point, pick a YouTube video, any YouTube video of an Euler's disk with a "you-ler" pronunciation. At least half of the comments will be correcting their pronunciation.
  • Paleobiology fans will not react well if you say that pterosaurs, dinosaurs, or any kind of large extinct reptile are all one and the same.
    • Whining about how the paleontological discoveries of the last several decades have "ruined your childhood" (namely the fact that at least certain theropods, and quite possibly most dinosaurs in general, had feathers or feather-like integument of some form) is an even more surefire way to earn you a punch in the face.
  • Domesticated ferrets are not rodents, are not omnivorous, and are not wild animals. Don't confuse them with Black-footed Ferrets. One former NYC mayor infamously bugged a lot of ferret owners when he mocked them for protesting against ferret laws, calling them rodents and other negative things, which causes him to be Flame Bait even twenty years later.
  • Never refer to a hypothesis as a 'Theory' unless you want countless scientists telling you how a hypothesis is 'A question based on observations that is able to be tested', while a Theory is 'a well-substantiated, unifying explanation for a set of verified, proven hypotheses.'
  • In Brazil, it is not a good idea to state that the Wright Brothers invented the airplane. If you ask a Brazilian, they will tell you that it is Alberto Santos-Dumont.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Dungeons & Dragons:
    • D&D has demons and devils. Many, many fans commonly mistake the two (which isn't really helped by the fact that the earliest editions just had demons, but no devils) and nearly just as many are really anal about fans who can't get it right. And when you throw in the fact that the most common kind of both demons and devils have more specific names (Tanar'ri and Baatezu respectively), it all just gets very messy, very fast. Plus other kinds like obyrith and archdevils that more pure-blooded fans know about. Part of this comes from the fact that, in many versions of the game, demons and devils DO have objective differences based on Alignment: while both are always Evil, Demons are characterized as always Chaotic, Devils are always Lawful. This extends to other celestial beings like Angels, Archons, Devas, Asuras, etc., where it is less defined.
    • Misspelling "rogue" as "rouge" will get you flamed in most online fora.
    • Every edition of the game has had a major revision about halfway through in order to, depending on who you ask, fix balance issues or sell more books. The revision of third edition is officially called 3.5. The revision of second edition ("Player's Options") is frequently called 2.5 and that's no big deal. However, calling the revision of fourth edition ("Essentials") "4.5" is a berserk button among fans of that edition.
  • Paranoia. Even in the game world itself, referring to The Computer as "the Computer" or, worse, "the computer" can get you a summary execution. "Friend Computer" will do.
  • Warhammer 40,000
    • Demon is an acceptable vernacular, though the preferred word is Daemon. Lord help you if you get the A and the E confused.
    • Space Marines armies aren't "pretty much all the same". There are myriad differences between the named codices, much less the various ways the plain Space Marines codex is interpreted by both players and in-universe Marine leaders.
    • Every army in Codex: Space Marines isn't "pretty much Ultramarines". Depending on who you ask this is either Ultramarines propaganda, or egregious and atrocious canon manipulation by Matt Ward.
    • The Ultramarines themselves are polarizing. Even before Ward changed the fluff to make them the "default" loyalist army they were scorned by non-Ultramarine players because they were GW's poster boy army. However Ward's comments that every Space Marine chapter secretly looked up to the Ultramarines and beheld their primarch Roboute Guilliman as their "spiritual liege" whom they all aspired to emulate really set the Ultramarines hate to a new level. Bringing up the Ultramarines won't get you into trouble in and of itself, but mentioning the title "spiritual liege" will. Especially from a Space Wolves, Black Templars, Imperial Fists or Blood Angels player; who hold their primarchs in equally high regard.
    • Blood Angels and Dark Angels are very different armies; do not confuse them.
    • One of the fastest way of pissing off a Blood Angels fan is by saying "You painted your Blood Ravens wrong".
    • Do not call an individual unit selected from Codex: Black Templars a singular "Black Templar". You can call them by their unit names when all else fails. You can also call them an Initiate or a Crusader.
    • They're Orks. "Orcs & Goblins" are in the other Warhammer game (see below). The K is important, especially to Ork players, who have been known to hound people til they leave a forum for making this mistake.
    • Speaking of Orks, the "g" in "WAAAGH!" is silent. If you forget that, then fans might call one on you.
    • Do not call armies fielded from Codex: Space Marines "vanilla" or "generic" Space Marines without knowing your opponent really well. Many Space Marine players take offense to both terms. This has largely crossed into dead horse territory with the 6th edition codex folding many chapters into the book and creating "Chapter Tactics". Now it's very common to ask a Space Marines player what chapter he's representing since the chapter tactics are a very important part of the metagame. Add in the litany of supplements released for chapters (Iron Hands, Imperial Fists, etc.) and pretty much nobody gets slapped with the "vanilla" label... except the Smurfs.
    • Ultramarines players, for the most part, hate being called "Smurfs". The Smurf moniker came about because of the blue armor Ultramarines wear, and the fact that Ultramarines are over-represented in fluff, artwork and special characters since they are the flagship Space Marines chapter. A simple look through the 6th Edition codex reveals five special characters for the Ultras, while no other chapter has more than 2.
    • They're not the trademark-friendly "Astra Militarum", they are the fan-favourite Imperial Guard. Likewise, they're not "Aeldari", "Drukhari" and "T'au", they are the Eldar, Dark Eldar and Tau.
    • Don't use "Real Warhammer" or "Original Warhammer" to indicate that you mean Warhammer to a 40k player. Also don't call it just "Warhammer" and assume they know what you mean. 40k-exclusive players consider 40k Real Warhammer. The accepted terms of distinction are "Fantasy" and "40k". You can also call Fantasy "Classic". Also bear in mind, a considerable population plays both.
  • Warhammer
    • Don't called Dwarfs "Dwarves." The former is the plural in Warhammer Fantasy, the latter is the plural in The Lord of the Rings. Hilariously, Tolkien actually admitted in his lifetime that he wanted the pluralization to be 'dwarfs', but thanks to his editor erroneously seeing it as an error, it was changed to Dwarves, which Tolkien then kept as 'a private piece of bad grammar'. (He would have preferred 'dwarrows' anyway.)
  • BattleTech Clan fans don't like it when you call the Timber Wolf and Summoner their Inner Sphere names MadCat and Thor. Less you want to be called a "Freebirth Stravag". Also, the following topics have caused a bit of drama on the official fora at one point or another:
  • Never ask a WARMACHINE player if they're playing Warhammer. Just... don't.

  • Saying that The Phantom of the Opera is set in 1870 is a good way to get a long talk about the Franco-Prussian War, the Commune of Paris, and Critical Research Failure in general.
  • Les Misérables: Enjolras' flippant comment in the book and 2012 movie notwithstanding, the story does not take place during the French Revolution. The barricade scenes are set during the June Rebellion, over forty years after the French Revolution.
  • Claiming that William Shakespeare of Stratford-upon-Avon didn't write all those plays. It's excusable if you suggest that John Fletcher collaborated on a few of them, though (since there's documented evidence that they worked together on The Two Noble Kinsmen and the lost Cardenio, and probably Henry VIII as well).
  • The names of the main characters in Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street are spelt "Sweeney Todd" (three E's, two D's) and "Lovett" (not Lovet, Lovette, Lovatt etc). This is incredibly common online, and drives some fans to Epiphany-level rage.
  • In the world of Opera Fandom (yes, there is an Opera Fandom) there are numerous mistakes that outsiders/newcomers can make. And don't think that just because the Opera crowd is metaphorically monocled and top-hatted that their fury is less passionate than the most devoted Trekkies or Whovians.
    • Do not ever ever refer to The Phantom of the Opera as an opera in front of an opera fan. The fact that the word 'opera' is in the title does not make it one. It is a musical. A Broadway production. The same thing goes for Les Misérables and other such works. Don't call them operas in front of your opera-loving friends... unless you hate them and want to end the friendship, of course.
    • There is a similar problem with singers. By all means, love your Sarah Brightman and Il Divo CDs. But do not call them opera singers. Do not tell opera fans that you like Katherine Jenkins' version of the Habanera the best. Singers like these may sound 'operatic' to non-opera fans, but they are NOT opera singers. They are classical crossover singers, and to actual Opera fans, they are hair-rippingly maddening. Especially because many of them have neither the vocal type nor the skill to sing the opera snippets they choose properly. If you know an opera fan, please do not make them sit through Jackie Evancho, Paul Potts, or any of the other Talent Show 'opera' singers. You will drive them crazier than Lucia di Lammermoor.
    • Opera fans will also take umbrage at the stereotype of a fat, ugly woman in a horned helmet. Many, if not most opera chanteuses are neither fat, nor ugly. Some are downright gorgeous.
    • Another stereotype is that opera is just a bunch of controlled screaming. If you say this, even jokingly, to an opera fan, you will be pulverized and forced to listen to their entire playlist until you concede defeat and tell them that opera is beautiful. To be honest though, how could anyone call this screaming? Or this?
    • Opera fans don't like it when every single singer who has a big voice with lots of vibrato is called an "opera singer," regardless of whether or not s/he actually sings opera. Josh Groban and Sarah Brightman are common examples.

  • Transformers:
    • There was an IRC chat back in the mid 90s where the admin would kickban any user who referred a particular character by any name other than "Dezaras". "Deathsaurus" was forbidden, "Deaths-R-Us" was right out, and "Death Czarus?" Well, you know the drill.
  • LEGO
    • As Gabe discovered, fans are all too ready to point out that the plural of LEGO is LEGO. Funnily enough, this rule gets broken in the first LEGO Island game when DJ Radio delivers the headline "LEGOs in SPACE!".note  The LEGO Group used to specifically make the point on the packaging that they should be called "LEGO bricks or toys" and not "LEGOs". They were worried about their trademark becoming genericized, as happened to, say, aspirin, escalator, and linoleum.
    • Calling Toa or Matoran "BIONICLEs" will result in a massive Internet Backdraft. Pluralizing the title will get you obliterated. Don't even think about calling them "Bionicles."
    • Also, there is a reason why BIONICLE is not under the LEGO section in this folder. Do not refer to BIONICLE as "that LEGO story" or otherwise try and imply that it is "just a story used to sell toys".
  • My Little Pony:
    • Stallions have always existed in the series, with the only exception being G3 (2003-2009). Despite this people often say that the franchise, especially G1, is female only and it pisses fans off.
    • G2 never had a cartoon. My Little Pony Tales is G1. The gens are based off the toys, not how many cartoons are released.

    Universities and Colleges 
  • Auburn University's sports teams are the Tigers, not the Eagles or the War Eagles. "War Eagle" is a cheer that Auburn uses, and the name of its fight song, but it has nothing to do with the team itself. The school itself even has a webpage pointing this out, and explains the Urban Legends and other stories about where the term is believed to have come from.
  • And while we're on the subject of the SEC West: it's Ole Miss and LSU, not "Mississippi" or "Louisiana State". If you want to be excessively formal while talking about the educational institutions themselves, you can say "University of Mississippi" and "Louisiana State University", but in any other context - especially sports - you use the nicknames.
  • Fans of Stanford University's sports teams will not hesitate to loudly and frequently remind you that their team is the Stanford Cardinal, not the Cardinals. That is, they are Cardinal, the shade of red, not Cardinals, the birds (or Catholic leaders). Gods help you if you suggest that their mascot is a cardinal.note 
  • It's Johns Hopkins University. As in, both words end in the letter s. Not "John Hopkins", and definitely not "John Hopkin." The founder's parents decided to name him "Johns" (after his mother's family name) rather than "John." It's led to over a century of irritated students and alumni correcting people who can't possibly believe that it would be "Johns", even people who really should know better (like long-time Baltimore residents). Also, while the medical school is the most famous part of Hopkins, it offers areas of study as varied as any other top research university. Assuming that everyone who attends Hopkins is studying to become a doctor is a great way to irritate the majority who are not.
  • Pronouncing the H in "Amherst, Massachusetts" will mark you as an outsider to any Amherst student or townie. Also, assuming that an Amherst College student means UMass when s/he says s/he went to "Amherst" will not endear you to him/her.
  • Do not refer to Maize as yellow in the context of the University of Michigan's color (unless you are singing the alma mater, which is actually called "The Yellow and Blue"). Likewise, do not refer to Rutgers' scarlet or Harvard's and Alabama's crimson as red.
  • If you're in Britain, don't call University "College". College is an alternative to Sixth Form that many British teenagers do, or one of the institutions that make up Oxford and Cambridge Universities. Or a further education college, a category which includes but is not limited to sixth-form colleges. The British university system was reformed in the 1990s and institutions perceived as being at a lower status/academic level, the old polytechnics and some of the larger tech colleges, were allowed to step up and recharter as new universities. These institutions remain sensitive about their origins and the perceived snobbery of those who still persist in thinking of them as somehow "inferior" and not real universities. Anyone who, for instance, refers to Manchester Metropolitan University as "Oh, you mean the Poly?" or Owain Glyndwr University of Wrexham as "Ah, the tech college on Mold Road?" is risking pressing a berserk button, and accusations that they're being snooty and superior. Any reference to "Clown Colleges" can be fighting talk in some quarters.
    • A similar tradition also applies to universities in Hong Kong, with universities being institutes for Bachelor Degrees, and colleges (or technically, community colleges) being institutes for Associate Degrees and High Diploma.
    • The Oxford college that has a cathedral is called Christ Church, not Christ Church College.
  • New York University's mascot is a Bobcat. Their sports teams, however, are the 'Violets.' Calling the teams 'the Bobcats' is a surefire way to identify someone as an incoming freshman or non-NYU student, and draw ire from current students and alumni.

    Visual Novels 
  • Say that visual novels are just video games and aren't unique enough to be considered a different medium. Some fans will just shrug and move on, but most will rip your throat out. However, there are VN fans who resent being categorized as different because it means they're "not real games", so it ends up being a case of Internet Backdraft either way.
  • Key/Visual Arts
    • Don't tell any fan that the characters are lolis. Don't even comment that they look like kids — unless the character is specifically pointed out in canon to look young, like Ayu or Kud — and especially don't say that their canon ages are "just a number tacked on so you don't get arrested". In keeping with the aforementioned Artistic Age, all the haremettes are in high school, often late high school, and so are the protagonists. The fans are really tired of hearing it.
    • Also don't tell Key fans that the art style looks unnatural or that the eyes are freakishly big.
    • Specific to Kanon, the widespread use of "uguu" by detractors of moe in general, many of whom have never even heard of Kanon, gets annoying. The fact that about five minutes passes from the first time Ayu says 'uguu' to the first time the game makes fun of the whole thing (and even less time in the anime) is a big factor here. "AM I KAWAII UGUU?" is right out.
  • Expressing squick and revulsion at Katawa Shoujo for featuring a Themed Harem of Disabled Love Interests. No, it's not a Dead Baby Comedy, even if the source material (a set of joke character designs which the game strongly departed from) is, and the thought that it has to be is in itself pretty offensive, considering that viewing disabled people as nonsexual beings and anyone who would be interested in them as predatory is a major problem in society as it is.
  • DRAMAtical Murder:
    • Unless you have a death wish, do not bring up the topic of Mink's route and whether or not Aoba was suffering from Stockholm Syndrome. No matter which side of the argument you're on, it won't be pretty. This has lessened since the release of Re:Connect, which expanded upon Mink's character and motivations, but his route is still very controversial.
    • Another one is the 'you fuck the dog!' joke. Newer fans (and non-fans) will probably laugh, but longtime fans will send death glares your way. Some fans find it especially frustrating because a number of people outside of the fandom have taken the joke seriously and think that the visual novel actually contains bestiality note .
    • Saying something along the lines of "I've been playing this thing for several hours now, where's all the yaoi sex?" will get you worse glares. DRAMAtical Murder is a BL game, but there aren't any explicit scenes until the latter half of the story (near the ending in most routes), so needless to say, they aren't a major part of the game. A lot of people start playing purely to watch the H-scenes, completely ignoring the actual plotline and dumbing down the characters, to the ire of fans.
  • Zero Escape:
    • Nine Hours, Nine Persons, Nine Doors fans get pretty annoyed when people call the game the "video game version of Saw", which is a rather bad berserk button to have when this is pretty much what every professional reviewer who reviewed the game said. Hardcore fans however will point out that "999 is much more original than Saw" and that "if you actually pay attention to the game's entire plot, it's actually nothing like Saw". In actual fact, the game was heavily inspired, not by Saw, but by Eastern horror movies, in which the theme is less about sadistic people inducing violence, and more about sadisticly inducing fear. The theme of the game, going through a game involving puzzle-filled rooms, has been compared to Saw, but as fans are quick to point out, the actual puzzles and entire set up for why they exist in the first place is nothing like it. The same goes for its sequel Virtue's Last Reward.
    • Also, please don't say in front of 999/VLR that you find the plot incredibly unrealistic and therefore bad. You'll get a huge speech about how everything is actually given an actual real life, scientific/theoretical, well explained explanation and that if you think the plot's unrealistic it means you mustn't have paid any attention to these parts. Not to mention that saying you find the plot "poorly put together", or that the writers "didn't care", is a BAD no-no, since fans will be quick to point out that everything slots together so well and folds so neatly into place that writing such a complex plot would take amazing levels of care and attention to detail.
  • Dumbing down Higurashi: When They Cry by describing it as the "killer lolis" series is a thorn in the side of many fans. Talking about how you only like the gorn and horror aspects, ignoring the tragedy behind it all, is even worse.
  • For the Sakura series of games created by Winged Cloud, speaking positively about the competence of any of the male protagonists (especially Seiji from Sakura Beach) is not recommended. However, it may be acceptable when it comes to ones from the more recent games (such as Akira from Sakura Agent).

    Web Comics 
  • The Order of the Stick's Big Bad Xykon has to deal not just with random members of the community, but even characters in the comic spelling his name wrong (with a Z). He can even tell when you misspell it in a speech balloon. And he will kill you for it.
  • On the fora of Looking for Group, anyone ignorant enough to post anything even hinting that they think the comic is a World of Warcraft story happening in Azeroth will get beaten up, crucified, eaten and shot, in that order. Despite the fact that the comic started as a Warcraft parody (though only for a very brief period) and incredibly obviously took significant inspiration from the games.
  • Gunnerkrigg Court: The third girl from the photo is not Jones, and she is not related to Gamma in any way. Fans continued to speculate to the contrary, even though Tom Jossed those theories, within hours of their first proposal, then put a note to that effect below the comic. At one point, a forum regular who should have known better suggested that this speculation should be a ban-worthy offense. This specific line of Wild Mass Guessing seems to have stopped now that it's been unambiguously confirmed in-comic that the photo girl and Jones are different people.
  • Dreamkeepers fans are usually pretty torn when it comes to pronouncing Namah's name. Some people say NAA-MUH, while others believe it to be NAY-MUH and refuse to back down in their opinions.
  • Las Lindas author Soul Kat has a big Berserk Button related to this trope due to so many people screwing up Davin Preacher's name, instead calling him Devin.
  • features a number of comic strips themed around different iterations of the concept: 1, 2, 3, 4
  • Referring to a Korean or Chinese webtoon as a "manga". You'll get away with calling them a "manhwa" or "manhua", but calling them "manga" annoys both manga fans and webtoon fans.

    Web Original 
  • The Slender Man:
    • Being mistaken about the origin of the mythos. No, it was not originally a Creepypasta, although many Creepypastas involving him have been written since his creation. No, Marble Hornets did not create him, though they are the primary reason as to his popularity,note  and neither did Slender. The Slender Man was created in Something Awful forum thread.
    • Referring to the main creature as just Slender. This occurs most often with fans who were introduced to the mythos through the game of that name.
    • Calling the creature Slenderman likewise draws ire from some fans. Referring to him as Slender Man as if it's his name is similarly a point of agitation. THE Slender Man is just a description of his appearance — a tall, gaunt being that looks vaguely like a man.
    • For that matter, calling Hoody or Masky "proxies" will get you treated to a nice lengthy explanation of how the term wasn't used in Marble Hornets and neither should be considered as such. Your best bet is to only use the term "proxy" when talking about Dark Harvest (the series from which the term originated) or Tribe Twelve.
  • SCP Foundation:
    • Do yourself a favor and peruse the site (which, admittedly, is very large) for a while before putting up new SCP entries; while certain community standards are arguably too high or too picky, anything that's flagrantly awful just as a piece of "creative writing", never mind the tone of the site, will typically get long, line-by-line breakdowns of everything you did wrong. Repeat offenses (or shotgunning multiple horrid entries at once) may or may not get you kicked off the site, depending on your personal attitude. For really entertaining discussions, however, just try to say how SCP-173 is a rip-off of the Weeping Angels, or why your impossibly amazing self-insert humanoid SCP/Researcher deserves to be all over the site, or how this new thing would really actually easily be able to kill SCP-682. Enjoy your time as a D-class.
    • Also, don't call it "SPC". That stands for "Shark-Punching Center".
  • Asking "what if Operation Sealion had been successful" or even mentioning the "Unmentionable Sea Mammal" in a non-ironic way on is sure to end in much banging of heads against walls in frustration at the prospect of having to explain to yet another noob just why it could not, under any circumstances, have worked.
  • Happy Tree Friends:
    • DO NOT mistake any well-known fan-made character as a canon character. At best, you'll drown in disappointment but at least other fans are willing to simply correct you on that. At worst, you'll be shouted at by the more hostile fans, especially if they don't like the idea of fan characters in general (which also isn't helped by the idea of Truffles's Video Bomb Competition).
    • During post-TV series era, saying that Flippy has fully gotten over his flip-outs was enough to garner wrath of fans. It didn't help that the next time a flipped-out Flippy appears, it's only in Flaky's imagination ("Without a Hitch"). The fanbase has calmed down since the release of the Love Bite short "On My Mind", which depicts Flippy flipping out.
    • Character concept-wise, mentioning that the cast is a complete rip-off of Care Bears characters will cause massive Internet Backdraft. Doesn't help that there's one exact case where someone made said comparison and, judging by the disabled comment section, that person succeeded in evoking the HTF fans' wrath.
    • For the more serious fans that have done their research, hearing FatKat being referred to as a permanent part of the cast is their Berserk Button. No, FatKat is not a canon HTF character. No, he's not a fan character either. He's a guest character (for a single HTF Break, mind you) who is simply a HTF version of an animation studio's mascot. Unfortunately, fans still make this error from time to time.
  • When commenting on Carmilla the Series, never, ever, ever use LaFontaine's deadname, "Susan," call them a girl, or refer to them with female pronouns. Their name is LaFontaine, they are non-binary, and they use they/them pronouns.

  • Except those that are for combat, do not call anything tangible a weapon.
  • This applies to most media, please don't mention something from 2000 or onward and say something like "only 90s kids remember". You will be labeled as an ignorant normie with no taste in popular culture, especially animation and video games. Slightly averted with stuff from early 2000 as it's pretty easy to forget that something you think came out in the 90's actually came out in January or February of 2000.

Alternative Title(s): Bannondorf, Gannon Banned, Nerd Rage, Pedantic Fan Rage