"Strength of numbers is the delight of the timid."
— Mahatma Gandi
It’s so much easier to get your way with one, two, or four chums who got your back and don’t mind joining in a little intimidation. Bullies seem to be a bit of a pack species when encountered in media. Oh sure, there’s always a leader
, but somehow he or she has often convinced or intimidated a few other characters to follow him or her around in his or her never ending quest to be a douche-bag
to the main characters. These side characters are considered of minor importance at best, and may not even serve any purpose other than to make the group look that much more intimidating, or to simply laugh at the leader's every insult and say "Good one". (As a rule, take down the leader and the rest will melt away, for A Friend in Need
they are not; also, they tend to end up abandoning their leader
whenever a tougher bully comes around (and join him/her instead
) and/or disappear completely if the leader undergoes a Heel-Face Turn
and joins the protagonist's circle of friends).
Often related to Kids Are Cruel
, though the occasional adult can have a small gang of followers. Often, for no other apparent reason other than the head honcho seems to be crueler and more sadistic than the rest.
See also the Girl Posse
, usually led by the Alpha Bitch
, for the female equivalent. However in recent years, actual all female gangs have appeared that are involved in violent crime and drug dealing, which often are just as bad as all male gangs.
All too often Truth in Television
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Anime & Manga
- Jonathon Joestar of JoJo's Bizarre Adventure deals with a gang of thugs who harass Erina.
- Motoko Minagawa of Fruits Basket leads a small group of girls who routinely make life a little more difficult for the main character
- Probably the most timid character of the series (Kotonoha) gets harassed by no less than five girls in School Days.
- In Naruto Sakura is picked on by Ami and two other girls during her ninja academy days, until Ino defends her.
- In the Yu-Gi-Oh! manga, Mokuba is introduced with a group of classmates like this. After his first appearance they are never mentioned again.
- Kyoko plays the leader of the gang of bullies in Skip Beat!. Interesting as she used to be the bullied.
- While only two in Oku-sama wa Mahou Shoujo, they still gang up on Sayaka. One of them just seems to follow the other, who has other motivations.
- An extremely large part of the cast of Kyou Kara Ore wa!! is part of one, usually linked to their respective schools. Bonus point for the ones of Akehisa High and Hokunei High: Akehisa's gang is composed by every single student, and Hokunei's is not only also composed by every single student, but burned down their school.
- Morty's gang in Minimonsters. They're dedicated to bullying Frank's gang, calling them "losers". Ironically, they're much more losers than them.
Film — Animated
- Foxy Loxy from Chicken Little picks on the titular character with Goosey Loosey as support.
- Minku gets bullied by a Gang of Bullies at school in The Return of Hanuman.
- Sykes, Ernie and Bernie from Shark Tale
- King Malbert and his royal guards in Igor.
- The Sugar Rush racers are this to Vanellope Von Schweetz in Wreck-It Ralph, because she's a "glitch," and not considered a legitimate racer. That's only because her code was vandalized by King Candy so no one had any memories of who Vanellope really is, princess of the game.
Film — Live Action
- Biff and all his ancestors/descendants from Back to the Future lead a small group of thugs.
- In The Forbidden Kingdom, the protagonist gets harassed and almost killed by a bully with a gun. Even the bully’s cronies are a bit apprehensive about this.
- The Cobras from The Karate Kid.
- Similarly, the posse of kung-fu students from the 2010 remake, who were members of the Fighting Dragons. Both Mr. Han (Jackie Chan's character) and Mr. Miyagi in both versions specifically comment to the sensei that fighting someone one-on-one is at least fair, bully or not, but being ganged up on is "too much to ask of anyone."
- The bully in 3 Ninjas was followed around by lackeys.
- Mean Girls: Though the titular clique is lead by Alpha Bitch Regina, as the movie shows, she would not be able to terrorize the student population without her faithful "army of skanks".
- The guys that tied up Nick from 30 Minutes or Less.
- The Golf Course Kids from 50 First Dates.
- Harry Potter books.
- Dudley is Large and In Charge of his gang and beats people up personally, and at least one of his friends that we know of is a scrawny little kid who presumably hangs around him for protection — it's mentioned that he holds people while Dudley hits them. Their favourite victim is Harry himself.
- Meanwhile, Draco is a not-particularly-physically-imposing Manipulative Bastard and Crabbe and Goyle are the big, stupid thugs who cling to him for status.
- Tom Riddle's own school-years gang would seem to follow this pattern except for the fact that Tom gets away with appearing like the model student—he lets his minions do much of the dirty work, just as he does as Lord Voldemort.
- James, Sirius, Remus, and Peter, in regards to Snape. The first two did the actual bullying—Remus was so lonely he couldn't bring himself to argue against it, while Peter just enjoyed watching.
- Snape himself seemed to be part of a gang when he was in school who later joined the Death Eaters. Though the gang bullied other students, Snape himself did not seem to.
- Let the Right One In features a group of bullies who pick on the main character.
- Discworld's Lord Downey is mentioned in Night Watch as having one of these during his student days, although they themselves are also embarrassed by the immaturity of his bullying tactics.
- Also the immaturity of his brain, which he only ever engaged long enough to remember how to pronounce "scag". I think he was meant to be a parody of people who get into prestigious colleges solely on the merit of being legacy.
- Kalarus Brencis Minoris from Codex Alera bears a striking resemblance to Draco Malfoy: a rich Smug Snake from a prestigious family who wanders the local Extranormal Institute with his pair of big, dumb thugs, looking for easy victims.
- Henry Bowers from Stephen King's It had a couple lackeys, though even they were occasionally frightened by how sociopathic Bowers was.
- Greg Simpson, the antagonist of The Bailey Game, leads a gang called the Bridge Boys, which is known for picking on others.
- In Jodie Picoult's Nineteen Minutes, Peter is the favorite target of Bully Matt, who is often aided by Drew, Courtney and the rest of his popular friends.
- The packs of Career tributes in The Hunger Games.
- According to Word of God, this is the dynamic that powers the large crews of vermin in the Redwall series: "A bully needs a gang."
Live Action TV
- Buffyverse: Buffy used to be routinely bullied by Alpha Bitch Cordelia, and her trio of friends until the Cordelia ended up becoming something of a friend to Buffy. Then Cordelia would be the one to suffer at the hands of her former friends. Angel would later liken them to the KGB, but with nicer shoes.
- Joss Whedon seems to like this trope, as Kaylee of Firefly experiences some harassment at an upper-class party from a trio of female attendees.
- Harley, Frankie and Joey on Boy Meets World. After Harley gets sent off to reform school Frankie and Joey get a new leader named Griff, although Griff was more of a High School Hustler than The Bully so the group's purpose changes. The group later disbands.
- Reina/Reika from Deep Love gets bullied by a gang of three girls who write on her textbooks and threw her desk out of the window in the second episode, telling her there was no place for her.
- In The Worst Year of My Life, Again, Parker and his friends.
- Butch of Fallout 3 bullies you with his friends throughout your childhood, though one quest can be solved making one of Butch’s cronies indignant from being told that he “does whatever Butch tells him to”.
- As to be expected in Bully, the first clique you deal with designated as the Bullies. Unlike the other cliques, they have no specific beef with another gang and simply harass whoever, wherever, making them the most satisfying gang to kick the crap out of.
- Since Superhero School Whateley Academy in the Whateley Universe is a high school, there are bullies. While some are solitary, Gold Stallion and his gang fit this trope precisely, as do the three jerkass bullies who call themselves TNT.
- Ariel of Drowtales is very nearly murdered by a group of her fellow students after they discovered she is a girl pretending to be male to attend their school. The nature of drow society causes there to be extreme friction between females, who want to control all of drow society as the stronger gender and the men, who desperately cling to whatever hold they can keep. She spends the rest of her time at the school suffering abuse at their hands when they fail and don't have a chance to kill her again.
- Bittersweet Candy Bowl has the gang from Confrontation, who are very likely to reappear as major antagonists sometime in the future.
- In Sinfest, Li'l E was attacked by one when small.
- In UC, Nicodemus is beaten up by a gang of three bullies, after one falsely accuses Nicodemus of flirting with his girlfriend.
- Roger of Doug is rarely seen without a couple of his lackeys in tow.
- In The Simpsons, there's a group of three or four bullies in Springfield Elementary who often pick on Bart. They're composed of Dolph (the hunched-over redhead with the Peek-a-Bangs and the green T-shirt), Jimbo (the dim-witted one with the purple knit cap and the black skull T-shirt who kinda sounds like Milhouse [Milhouse and Jimbo share Pamela Hayden as their voice actor]), and Kearney (the bald, fat one who wears a punk version of Homer Simpson's white T-shirt and blue pants, and, in later episodes is heavily implied not to be a teenager, despite looking like one). Nelson ("haw! haw!"), the most recognizable bully of the series, also hangs out with them from time to time. He's more sympathetic than the others, having been granted many Pet the Dog moments over the years.
It's not clear which of them is the alpha bully, though. Jimbo was the leader at first (according to the season one episode, "The Telltale Head" when Bart first met them outside the Aztec Theater), but over time their chain of command has shifted between Jimbo (because he was introduced first) and Kearney (because he's older than Dolph and Jimbo) before the chain of command became more or less egalitarian. Unless Nelson's being depicted as part of the gang (rather than just co-operation through respect between bullies), in which case he is almost always depicted as the leader. Albeit one with only a tenuous hold on power, as demonstrated in "Lisa's Date with Density". Nelson himself was introduced in the first season with a pair of color-swapped but otherwise identical lackeys.
- Mooch in 101 Dalmatians: The Series is usually seen with his gang: Wizzer, who dispite having the least speaking roles, seems to be Mooch's right hand, Dipstick, the dim pup, and Two-Tone, who once was Mooch's girlfriend, but left the gang later due to her relationship with Lucky.
- The Rowdyruff Boys from The Powerpuff Girls are essentially this, as are The Gangreen Gang.
- In the My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic episode "Dragon Quest" has a group of teenage dragons who bully and haze Spike in a rather disturbingly realistic manner. The alpha bully seems to be a red dragon who is the most physically strong of them.
- Rainbow Dash has to deal with a trio of male pegasi who gave her a hard time in the past at flight school during the events of "Sonic Rainboom"
- Portia, Gwen and Penny from The Mighty B!. They also count as a sadist version of this.
- Dee Dee, Marky and Joey from Oggy and the Cockroaches.
- Lok, Chief, Slog and Zariah from Tak and the Power of Juju.
- The Chopper Bunch from Wheelie And The Chopper Bunch.
- Lawson was often seen with a gang of fellow fifth-graders in Recess.
- Before Lawson, the same gang was led by Chucko Kowalski, but he seems to have been replaced by Lawson. Though he still appears with the gang in some episodes, but he rarely speaks anymore.
- Conrad Mundy, Greg Skeens, Sue Bob Murphy, Kurst the Worst, and Lazy Kid also count, though they only rarely take an aggressive role towards the main characters.