I Shall Taunt You

Goblin diplomacy.

"If your enemy is of a choleric temper, seek to anger him."
Sun Tzu, The Art of War.

A character deliberately insults and goads another as a calculated ploy. Possible motivations include:

Sometimes even Cthulhu can be annoyed beyond thinking straight. You'd better have a really good plan.

In competitive Video Games this frequently takes the form of a move or "attack" which does no damage and leaves your character defenseless against retaliation while he engages some mocking or playful behavior such as an Ass Kicking Pose, Dancing or a Finger Wag. Bring It!

Sometimes this is inverted as an I Know You Are In There Somewhere Fight. See also Defiant to the End, Teach Him Anger, The Computer Shall Taunt You.

Compare to a Batman Gambit, of which this trope is a verbal form. Compare also Trash Talk which occurs during a competition and is more for general intimidation than calculated insults, You Fight Like a Cow which may couple this trope with a duel, Practical Taunt when the benefits are based on a gameplay system which may use this trope as justification, Unsportsmanlike Gloating which occurs after winning the fight, and Volleying Insults where two characters may attempt to use this trope on each other, repeatedly.

Beware of using this on someone Too Dumb to Fool, as they may misinterpret your taunt as an Insult Backfire and react the opposite of how you want them to. Either that, or they'll simply ignore your taunt and keep doing whatever it was they were doing before you taunted them.


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    Anime and Manga 
  • Roy Mustang did something like this to Edward Elric (using his Berserk Button) in Fullmetal Alchemist when they fought. He used that "Art of War" quote above.
    • It was during their duel, and Ed has resorted to hiding among the crowd watching the fight. Mustang makes a small reference to Ed's height within Ed's earshot, which makes Ed go berserk and expose his position.
    • Envy uses this a lot, usually while taking the form of someone near and dear to his victim. This tactic backfires spectacularly when he tries it against Mustang.
    • Edward does this during his fight with Lan Fan. He presses her Berserk Button (insulting her master Ling) to make her attack more recklessly.
  • Mahoraba has the Secret Test of Character variety where Tamami brings Shiratori to Tamami's all-girl high school and then goes around telling everyone that Shiratori is a pervert, which gets him chased by half the campus, then has him haul a heavy load home for her. None of her slander or demands fazes him and he passes the test.
  • Ranma ˝: Used by Ranma in conjunction with the Hiryu Shoten Ha technique, since the technique doesn't work against a calm opponent. When faced with a opponent who deliberately remains calm in order to foil the technique Ranma resorted to alternate methods, such as showing photos of himself dressed in lingerie to a lecherous foe, or manipulating the existing heat and cold in the vicinity (with or without magical tools.)
    • Pantyhose Taro is, however, the undisputed master at this. He will taunt his opponent throughout the entire match, flaunting his superiority over them (or their anxiety over him turning into his monstrous form) until they're raving mad at him and make a fatal mistake. Then he moves in for the kill.
      • In the manga, while Pantyhose Taro is good, Ranma is better. Because Ranma is such a Manipulative Bastard, this is one of his techniques in fighting. Makes sense, since he insults people on a regular basis.
    • When Ranma found himself unable to counter Ryouga's brand new Lion's Roar Bullet (Shishihokodan), Genma took him aside to teach him the fearsome, terrible Cry of the Mad Dog. Step one: back away and out of range. Step two: cup your hands around your mouth. Step three: At the top of your voice, shout, "Idiot! Fool! Moron!"
  • Princess Kraehe (and later the character Mytho) in Princess Tutu use this against Fakir throughout much of the series to damage his confidence bit by bit.
  • In Dragon Ball Z, during their match at the end of the Buu saga, Goku angered Uub into attacking him by insulting his parents and using racist pejoratives.
    • Vegeta is the victim of this, a lot. As fond as he is of trash talking, he can be easily manipulated and goaded into holding the Idiot Ball.
    • Vegetto, the fusion of Goku and Vegeta, is even worse. Since he's so Game-breakingly-powerful that Buu isn't capable of even scratching him, he doesn't even put any effort into fighting Buu; just humiliating him. It turns out though, that he was goading Buu into attempting to absorbing him so he could free all the other fights Buu had consumed.
    • Done earlier by Krillin to Frieza. First he cut offs the latter's tail, sticks his tongue out at him, and then pats his butt. This is all to lure Frieza away from Gohan so Denda could heal him.
    • In the original series, Mr. Popo taunts Goku about being weak to make him careless and predictable. Since this is before Goku learned emotional control, he falls right for it.
  • Used several times in Chrono Crusade, particularly since Chrono has a bad temper when provoked. Aion uses it successfully against him in at least one battle. Remington uses it against Chrono in a later battle to teach Chrono to "control his rage". Rosette also uses it against Rizelle in the anime version, taunting her about her unrequited love for Aion.
  • In Mahou Sensei Negima!, Shirabe attempted this against Kotaro. It appeared to work, but he was actually faking. Those who remembered that he Wouldn't Hit a Girl could have seen it coming.
    • Then, after the tournament, Negi meets someone who's really good at taunting him. Kurt Godel, his father's ex-companion. Who manages to provoke Negi into releasing a Superpowered Evil Side. Holy...
    • In Negima?!, Kotaro himself, in his introduction chapter, successfully taunts Negi into fighting him seriously, by trash-talking his father.
    • Kotaru pisses Negi off a second time after they all crash into the Magical World, by jabbing at his inability to protect everyone. Considering how protective Negi is, he doesn't take it well.
      • In this case, he was doing it because Negi needed to burn off the excess magical energy that was left by Konoka's healing spell.
  • Tenjho Tenge: For some reason, Inue thought it was a really good idea to pour a cup of tea on Mitsuomi's head while repeatedly dissing and berating him. End result? She had her face smashed in, lost most of her teeth, and got tossed out of a window.
  • In Doki Doki Densetsu Mahoujin Guru Guru, the heroes meet a monster called Unbell that blocks the door they need to pass. A nearby diary warns that attacking Unbell will only make it bigger and heavier until it's impossible to move at all. Naturally, Unbell constantly taunts those in front of him specifically to provoke this.
  • Seto Kaiba of Yu-Gi-Oh! loves this technique.
  • Subverted in Yu-Gi-Oh! GX in that Judai's opponents generally go out of their way to insult and harass him after one upping him. However, he doesn't take dueling quite as seriously as his opponents and is basically having a great time, which in turn unnerves them back. Much more prevalent in the dub.
  • In Bleach, Aizen uses this against the Vizards and remaining captains in Karakura, Shinji warns everyone to stay calm, but Hiyori falls for it and gets either cut into two from behind (manga) or Impaled with Extreme Prejudice (anime) by Gin.
    • This beauty from Aizen :
      Hitsugaya: I'll kill you.
      Aizen: Don't use such overly strong words. They'll make you look weak.
    • Recently, it was used by Bambietta from the Vandereich against Komamura. In the words of another trope: "'Doggie dog' Komamura isn't happy about being insulted yet again."
  • In Naruto, Sakura uses this during her fight with Ino in the Chuunin exams. Ino was holding back at the start of it whereas Sakura wants to fight for real, so she starts taunting her rival by hitting her two Berserk Buttons (being called "pig" and having someone claim ownership of Sasuke) deliberately.
    • This is actually a fairly common ploy in Naruto. When used against plenty of the characters, especially Naruto himself, it works quite well, and the taunted character ends up losing his/her judgment and getting beaten. The problem comes when someone tries this with Sasuke. Insulting his clan or hurting his friends definitely presses his Berserk Button, but instead of losing his judgment, it's his morals that tend to go out the window. People who taunt Sasuke have a tendency to end up beaten to a pulp, if not dead.
  • One Piece:
    • Luffy invokes this within the first ten episodes: he presses Buggy the Clown's Berserk Button ("BIG NOSE!") to goad him into shooting him with his ultra-destructive cannonball. Luffy then uses his powers to bounce it back, blowing them up instead…but it doesn't cause them too much harm.
    • A lighter example: Most of the schemes that Sanji plots during the Alabasta Arc revolve around pissing Crocodile off enough. It's both fabulous AND hilarious!
    • Admiral Akainu stops Ace from escaping by insulting Ace's adoptive father, Whitebeard, by calling him a loser of a dead era who could never match Roger, a man that Ace hated. This works horrifyingly well.
  • Jessie Mavia in Kinnikuman is a master at move reversals and counters, but possesses no original techniques of his own. He's Hoist by His Own Petard when Kinnikuman goads him into going on the offensive.
  • Lelouch as Zero calling Jeremiah Orange in reference to his disgrace during season 1 of Code Geass.
  • Reilan in Haou Airen uses this as a part of her Thanatos Gambit, taunting and insulting Hakuron until he snaps and shoots her dead.
  • A common strategy for Joseph Joestar in Jojos Bizarre Adventure. In his fight with Blood Knight Wham, he actually gets Wham to not kill him by taunting him that he'd be strong enough to beat Wham if given one month.
  • In Death Note, this is L's preferred tactic of dealing with Kira: pile on the perceived pressure and the subtle mockery until Kira makes a mistake. Most obviously, during the famous "Lind L Tailor" broadcast he openly calls Kira evil. Light takes the bait and kills the guy in the broadcast, thus revealing 1) That he does in fact have a supernatural killing power and 2) where he was (since the broadcast was only being aired in the Kanto region of Japan).
  • InuYasha: Mouryoumaru tries this. Upon realising that the calm, rational one is Sesshoumaru and that Inuyasha's easily goaded, he begins targeting Inuyasha by insulting Kagura's death, dismissing her sacrifice for Kohaku's life and mocking her desire for freedom as Inuyasha, Kagome, Miroku and Sango become angrier and angrier. Unfortunately for Mouryoumaru, his plan backfires when, to everyone's complete shock, the person who explodes into an Unstoppable Rage isn't Inuyasha but Sesshoumaru, who becomes so upset that he breaks his sword Tokijin and puts his own life in danger. Everything degenerates into chaos at that point.
  • In episode 4 of Log Horizon, Shiroe purposely mispronounced Demikas' name twice ("demi-glace" and "delicious") to enrage him and get him separated from his main party. He continues doing this when he meets Demikas again in the second season, but in that case he was just being a Troll: there was no strategy behind it.
  • In Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann, episode 2, after Kamina misses the two enemy Gunmen with the "Perfect Combustion Of Burning Souls Cannonball Attack", the enemies taunt him mercilessly. It doesn't serve them any good though, since Lagann just turns around inside a mountain-side.

    Comic Books 
  • Spider-Man is the well-known wisecracking grandmaster of taunts and the embodiment of this trope itself. It serves the dual purpose of keeping his spirits up and annoying the crap out of his enemies.
    Some villain: Blast it! You talk so much, you've got me confused!
    Spider-man: How about that? I've got a super-power I didn't even know about about: My Spider-Speech!
    • Deadpool does the same thing, only his jokes tend to be cruder and is more a result of his insanity than a tactical move.
      Domino: I always forget (or just block out to spare myself the agony) what Wilson's most lethal weapon is... his mouth! He'll talk nonsense until you surrender or commit suicide.
    • Naturally, when Spidey and Deadpool fought, taunts played an even bigger part than physical attacks. Spider-Man effectively won the fight by rendering Deadpool speechless with the taunt "Kids don't wear Deadpool Underoos!"
      • Well, of course they don't! Old ladies wear Deadpool underoos!
  • Paid tribute to early in Spider-Man 2099. Spider-Man is being chased by a very persistent (and very talkative) cyborg bounty hunter, and he wonders to himself "Lord! I wonder if I get on people's nerves this much when I mouth off as Miguel?"
    • A deliberate inversion, as writer Peter David deliberately created Spider-Man 2099 as an opposite of Peter Parker — Parker is shy in person and talkative in costume, which the 2099 version inverts.
  • Batgirl's first confrontation with the Joker, Batgirl (the Barbara Gordon version) stops him from finishing off a wounded Batman by laughing at him, thus stalling him until the police arrive.
  • Savage Dragon also regularly taunts his opponents. The most classic example would be his fights with Powerhouse - a deadly supervillain who has a face that looks like a chicken. There about five jokes per panel.
  • Reed Richards snaps his wife Sue out of the Hatemonger's Emotion Bomb mind control by hurling condescending and misogynistic taunts in order to enrage her as much as possible (the mind control could only be broken by powerful emotions that stemmed from a different source.) Of course, some fans who never actually read the story and only saw that semi-infamous panel of him bitchslapping her while yelling "Shut up!" got the wrong idea...
  • In Secret Wars, after Molecule Man drops a mountain on the heroes, Reed Richards taunts and insults the Hulk, who is pushing himself to the limit holding up the mountain, so that anger will give him the extra strength to hang on.

    Fan Fic 

  • In Star Trek II, Kirk ensures that Khan will follow him into the Mutara Nebula (which will negate many of Khan's current tactical advantages) by making it a dare and stomping on Khan's sense of superiority ("I'm laughing at the superior intellect.")
  • Used by a much younger alternate-universe Kirk in the 2009 Star Trek film as a way of getting Spock to prove himself unfit to command the Enterprise. It was slightly more successful than intended - Spock came very, very close to throttling Kirk.
  • Also used in Star Trek: First Contact. After the Borg have taken over most of the Enterprise, Picard stubbornly refuses to activate the self-destruct sequence and evacuate the ship. In one of Patrick Stewart's finer moments in acting, Lily proceeds to taunt Picard until Picard loses it and delivers a furious tirade against the Borg, which in turn makes him realize his hatred of the Borg is affecting his judgment.
    • Well, that, and Lily points out that he broke his model of the old (TNG Series era) Enterprise during his rant.
  • Monty Python and the Holy Grail is the trope namer (though the French soldiers don't seem to have much ulterior motive other than to continue amusing themselves at the expense of the the silly kniggits).
    French Soldier: Now go away or I shall taunt you a second time!
    • However, it is referenced while fighting the killer rabbit, when Sir Galahad suggested taunting it, saying it may become so cross it will make a mistake. King Arthur asked "Like what?"
  • The film version of Red Dragon.
  • Subverted in Red Eye, as calling Jackson Rippner by "Jack" doesn't particularly bother him. He just finds it mildly annoying.
  • In Serenity, Mal attempts to goad The Operative, to which he replies "You can't make me angry." Later on in the film, during the chase sequence, The Operative shoots Mal In the Back, to which Mal replies "You shot me in the back! I haven't made you angry, have I?"
  • Used in Happy Gilmore, leading to quite possibly one of the best fight scenes ever to appear on film.
  • In True Romance Dennis Hopper taunts Christopher Walken with some demographic facts about Sicilians which this particular Sicilian doesn't really care for. The result is that Walken and his mooks stop torturing him and go straight to killing him, which plays out as a victory.
  • Dark side characters in the Star Wars universe are often seen taunting their opponents. In the Expanded Universe, this becomes an explicit technique of lightsaber fighting called "Dun Möch." Palpatine apparently failed his lessons.
  • Spoofed in Duck Soup. Groucho insults the Ambassador Trentino, in order to provoke Trentino into hitting him, so that he can have the Trentino deported; the insults backfire (no, not that way), and Groucho ends up slapping the ambassador. On multiple occasions. Leading to a declaration of war.
  • In Igor, Dr. Schadenfreude does this to Eva to goad her into hitting him, which will activate her dormant evil bone and turn her into an unstoppable monster.
  • Thor: After Thor provokes war with the Frost Giants, Loki negotiates a way out. As they leave, a very large Frost Giant says to Thor, "Run away little princess". Immediately lampshaded by Loki, who knows exactly what's coming: "Damn".
  • In the movie version of MASH, after Frank and Hot Lips have sex, Hawkeye relentlessly asked Frank questions about the experience to taunt him. It works, as Frank attacks Hawkeye and is later taken away in a straitjacket.
  • In Blazing Saddles, this is how Bart and the Waco Kid lure two KKK members into a trap: "Hey, Where Da White Women At??"
  • Towards the end of Men In Black, Jay figures out the best way to get "Edgar"'s attention is by stomping on cockroaches.
    Jay: (feigning ignorance) Oh, I'm sorry, was that your auntie? Then that must be your uncle over there! (stomps on another roach) Well, well. Big, bad Bug got a bit of a soft spot, huh? What I can't understand is, why you gotta come down here bringing all this ruckus! Snatching up galaxies and everything. My attitude is: don't (stomp) start nothing, won't (stomp) be nothing!
  • During the climax of Friday the 13th Part VI: Jason Lives, Tommy lures Jason into his trap by taunting him, saving his Love Interest in the process.
  • The electric ghost Sammi Curr in Trick or Treat is defeated when Eddie taunts him to materialize the police car he is driving, which soons falls into biggest collection of his weakness: the sea.
  • John Banning in The Mummy (1959) tricks Mehemet Bay to sic the mummy Kharis on him (and consequently, into his trap) by visiting him under a friendly neighbour guise (revealing that he survived the original attempt at his life), acting snooty and being dismissive about the Karnak religion, which Bay is a follower of.

  • In Dragon Bones, Oreg tells Ward that he tried to taunt one of his owners into killing him. Didn't work, the man was clever enough to have someone else whip Oreg, knowing that Oreg is immortal and can only be killed by the one who wears the ring he's bound to.
  • In Glory Road by Robert A. Heinlein, Star goads a fairly stupid but very strong giant (he's immune to swords and guns don't work there) in order to get him wound up so he can't think straight and "warm him up" for Oscar to kill. He thanks her for getting the unkillable guy angry at him.
  • Also happens in Jim Butcher's Codex Alera series, in the fourth book — fighting a considerably more skilled opponent, the hero is able to defeat them by working out their mental weakpoint and talking them into a berserk rage.
  • Butcher just likes this trope - it's used so often in The Dresden Files that it's somewhat insulting to the monster of the hour if Harry and Co don't snark at it. Must come from being a self-proclaimed Spider-Man fanboy.
    • Harry is goaded into depowering one of the Swords of the Cross. It wasn't in the end. Nicodemus later tries the same thing on him, so he plays along for a while. In the same book, Harry is goaded into revealing himself, forcing the Archive to reveal herself, which was the ploy all along.
    • Harry pulls this on Fix in a ruthless fashion. After the fact, Fix is impressed and bemused.
    • When Harry is meeting Donar Vadderung aka Father Odin, Harry looks at his two receptionists each with guns trained on him, and despite being told to not say anything, taunts the two women. He justifies it because he has mouthed off to so many powerhouses, it would be against his nature to not do it now.
    • In Blood Rites, he Inverts this trope when he addresses Ebenezer McCoy as "sir" in the presence of Lieutenant Murphy. Murphy is utterly floored and treats Ebenezer very respectfully after that.
  • In Dora Wilk Series that's the eponymous witch's main tactic against people who'd rather see her dead. She can't attack them (officially they're on the same side), but she can subtly taunt them until they make ass of themselves. Additionally, in Doraverse art of beating someone with words is valued higher than art of beating someone with magic, so other characters use it sporadically.
  • In C. S. Lewis's The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian, Glozelle and Sopesian goaded Miraz into accepting the challenge of single combat (expecting that he would lose and if not, they would kill him themselves) by subtly insulting his courage and his fighting ability. In The Movie, Edmund does this while presenting the challenge ("So what you're saying is, you're bravely declining a challenge from a boy half your age."): Sopesian might be doing this as well, but since the Narnia films have likely hit Alternate Continuity status relative to the books, there's a chance he's sincere. (Glozelle effectively says "Go for it!" in the film.)
    • Well, one of them says "It's okay if you don't, we can make up an excuse", which is definitely goading. The other then says something like "Of course you're going to do it". Both of them were pretty clearly manipulating Miraz into combat, especially since they do go through with the killing him when he isn't killed in battle.
  • S.M. Stirling's Draka novel Marching Through Georgia. (Not that Georgia, the one in SW Asia.) The Draka blocking force has been defeated. The Nazi units can bypass them and break through to take the pass and save the day for the Germany. The leader of the Draka radios the German commander and taunts him into neglecting his duty and trying to wipe out the Draka.
    "Do you have any messages for your wives and daughters? We'll be seeing them before you do."
    • actually said to the Romans by the invading Cimbri barbarians in a battle around 100 BCE.
  • Subverted by Discworld's Jonathan Teatime. It's pronounced "teh-ah-tim-eh", and he's a bit sick of people getting it wrong, but it won't drive him mad.
    Teatime: Please don't try to distract me.
    • Another Discworld example is in Going Postal where Moist von Lipwig sets out to make Reacher Gilt as angry as he possibly can because angry people make mistakes. Although he doesn't directly insult him so much as pull a Bavarian Fire Drill.
  • Wes Janson, incorrigible jokester that he is, does this on occasion. Mostly notably is in Starfighters of Adumar, where he successfully goads his opponent in a sword duel into making an attack Janson can dodge - which opens him up for Janson to knock away the sword and beat the living daylights out of him bare-handed.
    • There's also the Yuuzhan Vong Hunter droids, who are programmed to yell "We are the machines! We are greater than the Yuuzhan Vong!" in their language. This is such heresy to the Vong that they have a tendency to charge blindly at the droids, which, of course, goes poorly for them.
    • Grand Admiral Pellaeon also uses this against the Vong, repeatedly taunting their fleet commander, Vorrik.
      Pellaeon: Maybe I'm missing something, Vorrik, but I'm not seeing any evidence of this great plan of yours. We're destroying your yammosks; we've killed your spies; we're taking back those you thought were captives. You don't have the muscle to take this planet, let alone the others. Your threats are as empty as your boasts are shallow.
      Vorrik: You will eat those words when-
      Pellaeon: Empty.
      Vorrik: -we turn your abominations into slag and-
      Pellaeon: Empty.
      Vorrik: -grind every trace of you into the dust from which you were born!
      Pellaeon: Empty, Vorrik! [...] You may win the occasional battle against us, Vorrik, but the Empire will always strike back. That I promise you. (speaking over Vorrik's ranting) You tell Shimrra from me that if he wants to get the job done, then he's going to have to send a bigger fleet - and a more competent commander to oversee it. (the Yuuzhan Vong fleet shortly withdraws)
    • Also in the Star Wars Expanded Universe, taunting enemies during lightsaber combat is a technique of its own, called Dun Moch. It is often used by darksiders trying to rouse anger in an opposing Jedi.
      • The Jedi use an inverted version, appealing to any remaining shreds of goodness in their foes in an attempt to redeem them and avoid fighting. It sometimes works.
  • Used by Ender when he goads a bully into fighting him one-on-one (rather than 12-on-1).
    • Inverted in a way right after that, when one of Ender's friends bursts into the scene and tries to reason with the bully that Ender really is humanity's last, best hope. Ender groans to himself, fully aware that such a comment will only enrage his enemy further, but not in a way that will make him mess up, just completely homicidal.
  • Part of the initial exam for joining the CDF in John Scalzi's Old Man's War is a specifically calculated taunting, in order to record some brain information about extreme emotion.
  • Used A LOT in Romance of the Three Kingdoms to varying amounts of success. One of the more famous examples has Zhuge Liang, wanting to bring his rival, Sima Yi, out of his defensive position, sends him a dress and women's make up with a note saying "If you are unable to fufill your duties as a man, dress in this outfit and act like a woman instead."
    • This example is also notable in that it is the rare instance where Zhuge Liang failed. Sima Yi just laughed and put on the outfit anyway, spoiling Zhuge Liang's plan
  • A nasty variant of this was used in The Mallorean, where a pair of Tolnedrans are arguing in the street. One remains completely calm, while the other becomes more and more enraged over the former's haranguing. However, instead of the former goading the latter into a fight, the latter dies of a stress-triggered poison both Tolnedrans had consumed, the former knowing that he could keep his emotions under control.
  • Council Wars has Dionys McCanoc's pitiful attempts at taunting Edmund Talbot, and almost two pages of Edmund Talbot showing him how it's done, spurring McCanoc into a rage that allows Talbot to demolish his foe.
  • The Doctor does this a lot, but in the Eighth Doctor Adventures novel Camera Obscura, he goes all out in one scene, mostly just to get back at Sabbath for making his life very, very difficult. He does all kinds of intentional Foe Yay things (well, Sabbath did steal his heart), hides a whoopee cushion in his sofa, flops on his desk like a cat while Sabbath is looking at something, folds his papers up into penguins, sings to him, etc. Do not piss off the Doctor, or he'll teach you how it's done.
  • James Bond pulls this on Hugo Drax in Moonraker while tied up, causing Drax to forget and leave a torture instrument in the room, which Bond then uses to free himself and the Girl of the Week.
  • In The Elenium sequel series The Tamuli, Ulath does this when faced with a small army of trolls to provoke them into attacking on the protagonists' terms.
  • Draco Malfoy goads the trio throughout the Harry Potter series, although his goals are usually nothing loftier than getting them in detention.
  • In the Final Confrontation of Artemis Fowl: The Opal Deception, Artemis and Holly have to stop Opal Koboi from diverting a subterranean probe surrounded by tons of molten metal onto Haven, which will simultaneously kill almost half of The People and reveal the remaining ones to humanity. Artemis' brilliant plan involves a mostly-reformed thief with a bottomless stomach and Opal's weakness for truffles. Of course, this is just a distraction.
  • Mundo Cani uses this tactic to battle Wyrm in The Book of the Dun Cow, insulting him and goading him into looking his seemingly oumatched opponent in the eye. This allows Mundo Cani to blind him, trapping them both underground.
  • After seeing his friend most likely fall to his death, Fisk has to listen to the villain of book three in the Knight and Rogue Series make fun of his morals for agreeing to work with them (not knowing Fisk only agreed for a chance at getting revenge)
  • In The Dark Tower III: The Waste Lands, Roland Deschain gives a large "The Reason You Suck" Speech and all manners of taunts to Blaine The Mono, for acting like a spoiled child. Note that he and his companions are currently riding said mono, who threatens to derail them in response. Roland still doesn't care.
  • Musashi does this a lot before duels. The way he sees it, the fight itself begins before the swords are drawn. He was famous for it in Real Life.
  • In The Lord of the Rings, Aragorn does this to Sauron by using the Palantír of Orthanc to show him Andúril (Narsil reforged), hoping to provoke Sauron into mobilizing his forces before they were fully ready. It worked.
  • In The Silmarillion Fingolfin rides to the gates of Angband to defy Morgoth himself, and challenges him to single combat. Morgoth would have just had his Balrogs, wolves, and Orcs Zerg Rush him, but Fingolfin called him craven. Morgoth realized he would have to face him or lose standing in his subordinate's eyes, so he accepted the challenge. Not that it made much difference, as Morgoth wins anyway.
  • In the Honor Harrington series, this has almost become standard operating procedure for characters in the Talbott Quadrant when dealing with antagonists from the Solarian League. Vice Admiral Michelle Henke specifically outlines it as part of her strategy for dealing with Solarian admiral Sandra Crandall, even though it conflicts with another goal to try and stall for time. Other tactics used by her subordinates include opening communications in uniform instead of protective skinsuit (sending the message that the Sollies are no threat to them whatsoever) or using their faster-than-light communication to invoke Oh, Crap moments.
  • Parshendi in The Stormlight Archive get really angry if someone touches or moves their dead. In The Way of Kings, Kaladin exploits this when he dresses up in armor covered in Parshendi hide and bone. This cause the entire Parshendi army to focus fire on him, ignoring the unarmored bridgemen and allowing them to place their bridges in relative safety. On multiple occasions after this, the Parshendi ignore Alethi soldiers who are right among them cutting them down to try and put an arrow in Kaladin.
  • All Hands! has a version, with the commander of the Starcougar cursing out a pirate captain, in the hopes that the pirate would focus on him, not the merchant he was protecting. And to distract and anger him as well, though that goes without saying.
  • In Stephen King's Skeleton Crew, in the story "The Wedding Gig," the gangster "The Greek" sends a frail little man to insult Mike Scollay and Scollay's sister Maureen at her wedding. Even though he's likely aware he's being baited into a trap, Scollay responds with rage and storms outside, where he's gunned down.

    Live Action TV 
  • Buffy does this to the Mayor in the ''Buffy the Vampire Slayer "Graduation Day". She goaded him in giant snake mode to a roomful of explosives, escaped and hit the detonator.
    • In the season two finale, Angelus does this to Buffy. It doesn't work like he hoped.
      Angelus: No weapons, no friends. No hope. Take all that away, and what's left?
      Buffy: -catches his sword with her bare hands when he lunges at her- Me.
    • Buffy does this when captured by Faith in "Enemies". Ostensibly this is so Faith will kill Buffy instead of torturing her to death. Turns out Buffy is a Play-Along Prisoner and wants to get Faith to reveal the Mayor's plans during her Evil Gloating.
  • Angelus does this to the Beast in the Angel episode "Salvage". Indeed, whenever he's unleashed, his favourite games are always headgames.
  • This is the main tactic used on the "Bad Girls Club". One girl will taunt another, usually putting her face within inches of the other's, goading the other into throwing the first punch. The rules of the show say whoever throws the first punch may be voted off.
  • The Seventh Doctor goads Davros into using the Hand of Omega in the Doctor Who serial Remembrance of the Daleks, thereby destroying Skaro (or maybe not). He was presumably going to use it anyway but it gave the Doctor a chance to imply Davros was using the Daleks to compensate for being impotent.
  • In the Star Trek: The Original Series episode "This Side Of Paradise", Kirk deliberately insults Spock in order to anger him enough to throw off the influence of mind-controlling spores.
    • He also taunts Rojan, in the episode "By Any Other Name", saying that his woman (Kelindra) favours Kirk over him. This is done to heighten Rojan's reactions and force him to acknowledge that trying to travel to the Andromeda galaxy in an emotion-filled human body was a mistake.
  • In Survivor: Gabon, one contestant attempted a two-part strategy of doing this and then getting the Hidden Immunity Idol off an ally to blindside everyone else. It worked right up until he learned it was a fake idol - after playing it.
  • A version seen in the Life episode "Everything... All the Time"— though it's likely popped up in lots of other Police Procedurals— is when the protagonist, in need of an excuse to hold someone for questioning, provokes them into attacking, then arrests them for assault.
  • An episode of Law & Order used essentially the same tactic, provoking a suspect that had beaten the system (by having the single source of DNA thrown out of the case) into assaulting one of the victims' brother by biting him, in order to get a DNA sample from the blood when the suspect hurt his hand.
  • The same thing popped up yet again in an episode of ER. Dr. Kovac wanted to keep an abusive husband away from his wife (the patient), but she refused to identify him as her attacker. In order to have him certified as a "danger to others", Kovac went into detail about his wife's injuries, explaining the kind of force necessary to cause them and what a big tough guy the man must be until the man snapped and punched him in the face. Kovac admitted the tactic probably wouldn't work for very long because he so obviously baited the man.
  • In an episode of Chuck, Chuck aggravates Casey to get him riled up enough to defeat his sensei.
  • In Black Books Bernard does this to a gang of violent skinheads for the very simple reason that he wants to be beaten up and thus excused completing his tax-return.
    Bernard: Which one of you bitches wants to dance? Hey, you know when you're doing your usual threesome thing you do on a weekend, and the moonlight's bouncing off your heads and your arses and everything, does that not get a bit confusing? Right. This is you, okay? [He prances about] Tra-la-la! Millwall! That's the one! Do you know this chant? Er, 'Millwall, Millwall, you're all really dreadful, and your girlfriends are unfulfilled and alienated... '
  • Booth attempts this in Bones to try and incriminate her father (using a false identity).
    Max Keenan: You're just trying to make me angry so that I'll hit you. Twenty-five years ago, that would've worked.
  • Dexter taunted a killer by using his real name - it's unclear whether he was trying to affect his judgement or just piss him off. Either way, it didn't work. "You think calling me that is an insult? I take it as a compliment. It reminds me how far I've come."
  • In Stargate SG-1, we have Colonel Jack "Of COURSE I dare mock you" O'Neill.
    • Eventually rubs off on Daniel Jackson. Vala can be good at this too, as can Mitchell. None of them can quite reach Jack's level, though.
  • In Wizards of Waverly Place, Justin and Alex go back and forth with this trope.
  • In the episode "Folsom Prison Blues" (S02, Ep19) of Supernatural, Agent Henriksen tries this when interrogating Dean.

  • The Scottish folksong Baron O' Brackley features this. The baron is raided by a rival clan, but refuses to fight on the logical grounds that he's horribly outnumbered. His wife insults his manhood, and he goes out to face them. Just as planned.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Dungeons & Dragons
    • Kender in Dragonlance are infamous—among other qualities—for the ability to get any creature able to understand them riled up.
    • The Taunt spell could enrage opponents and cause them to attack you in melee combat (which was useful if they were more effective at ranged combat).
  • Mutants & Masterminds has the Taunt feat, which lets you do this. Not that there's anything stopping you from mouthing off, but this lets you use it in combat a la Spider-Man. And it's only one character point.
  • Standard tactics in James Ernest's Totally Renamed Spy Game — the spy cards are worth more points if you can pull off a successful taunt before the kill.
  • In Munchkin, there's a card named "Divine Intervention", which lets all Clerics gain a level. That level can be the one that makes them win the game. If that happens, Any cleric who reached Level 10 this way get to taunt the other players mercilessly. And the rules even encourage taunting them if you win this way, because it's just unlikely to ever actually happen.
  • This is a somewhat easily easily missed but perfectly valid use of the Intimidation skill in Spirit Of The Century; there's even a related "Infuriate" stunt for it that gives an explicit bonus to attempts to rile people up rather than simply frighten them. Presumably to eliminiate this potential point of confusion, the later Fate Core System rules rename the skill to Provoke and explicitly define it as the skill of eliciting negative emotional responses in general — be those fear, anger, shame or whatever — and getting one's way by basically being a jerk to people.

    Video Games 
  • All four Super Smash Bros. games have taunts.
    • Smash 64 and the Brawl mod Project M have taunt canceling, which is a technique that cancels the animation of a taunt, but doesn't cancel the sound, is often used for humorous results.
      • Melee has taunt canceling to a lesser extent; only Dr. Mario and Young Link can regularly taunt cancel (due to their momentum properties), and the other characters can only taunt cancel using the cloud on Yoshi's Story.
  • Many Street Fighter games feature a taunt button that does nothing aside from performing a minor action that leaves you open to counter-attack. Bar none, the best taunting character is Dan Hibiki. In some games, each character is only allowed to taunt once per round... except for Dan, who never suffers this restriction. In some games, performing a taunt will help to fill up your opponent's super meter... but Dan has a legendary Taunt that lets him spend his own entire super meter on one overly long taunt. In some games, Dan can even taunt while in the air.
    • In addition, some professional tournament players have an improvised version, where they try to win each bout by Cherry Tapping or with a specific Difficult but Awesome move or one that is considered a bad or weak move normally. In extreme cases, a super-confident player may intentionally throw a round he could've won easily because he can't set up the specific move he wants to use as the finisher, such as a Charged Attack he couldn't build up to that round.
  • Ace Attorney:
    • This could be said to be something that Apollo Justice adds to the series. While Phoenix provokes his foes into a Villainous Breakdown by finding the flaws in their story; Apollo can use his special power to identify his foes' weakness like this.
    • And throughout the whole Ace Attorney series, any time the villain of the day seems to have the upper hand, they will mercilessly taunt the player character, thinking they have them completely beat. The character then either goes into a panic since they're backed into a corner, or they go silent or taunt right back when they see a flaw from the bad guy they can exploit.
    • This trope is also Prosecutor Simon Blackquill's primary method of controlling the courtroom in Dual Destinies. He also used it while searching for the Phantom during his time in jail. 'Just try to retrieve your identity, you bloody butcher!'
      • The more comedic version that runs the same circles as the trope namer is the petty and childish "No, You"-type fights between the prosecution and defence in the first half of the last case.
  • Neverwinter Nights and Neverwinter Nights 2 include the "Taunt" skill as an option for characters. In the first game it is almost useless as it is only an ineffective combat power, but in the second it turns into a conversation skill as well. The Taunt options during your trial in the second chapter of the main campaign are really silly, especially when you succeed on your Taunt check and Ambassador Claven looses her cool.
  • In Planescape: Torment this is Morte the Mimir's special ability - to hurl insults, curses and taunts so enemies will drop whatever they're doing to assault him, and only him, in melee. This works especially well on the Squishy Wizard, because they'll be so infuriated they'll forget to cast spells. On anyone else it's mostly just funny.
  • If you taunt your enemies in God Hand it infuriates them (increasing their attack power) but it also increases your Tension, allowing you to use your God Hand more frequently.
    • It's also very useful in drawing out targets to fight one-on-one, rather than getting bum-rushed by multiple demons at once. However, it simultaneously increases your Level, which makes your opponents even tougher (but the reward for beating them gets better as well).
  • This is how tanks work in any MMO with any kind of hate/threat system. The tank "taunts" the enemy to make it attack the offender rather than to judge the situation correctly and go for the squishy wizard, the healer or in some cases, a weakened or vulnerable tank.
  • Swashbucklers in Age of Wonders 2 can taunt enemy units, forcing them to attack the Swashbuckler (or ideally, waste their turn trying to reach him), collecting attacks of opportunity from units they must pass by. Heroes can get the skill as well. In Shadow Magic Bomber (Goblins), Glutton (Orcs) and Leprechaun (Halflings) got this ability as well.
  • In Pokémon Vietnamese Crystal, one rocket grunt says to you, "I WILL BE RUDE TO YOU IF YOU DISTURB OUR WORK."
  • The Hot-Blooded Matsu from Dot Hack GU is fond of doing this. He belongs to the Moon Tree guild which forbids him to make the first strike in PKing, so he taunts people, trying to make them strike first, before he retaliates, citing self-defense.
  • Wing Commander has this as a basic tactic: taunting Kilrathi fighters has a chance of making them drop whatever they're doing to attack you (instead of whatever you're escorting).
  • The 7th Guest has Stauf taunt the player while in the middle of puzzles using cheesy one-liners ("I'm dying to see what you'll try next!") or just in general being a creepy Jerk Ass.
  • Tohsaka in Fate/stay night irritates Caster into not noticing that she and Shirou have circled her and Kuzuki to make for more favorable fights. Kuzuki notices but doesn't do anything about it.
  • Kid in Chrono Cross insults some guards until they open the cage she's stuck in, at which point the party kills them. Poor guys.
  • In Monday Night Combat, finishing a taunt gives you $5, finishing a taunt soon after a kill gives you $50, and getting damaged while taunting gives you extra juice.
    • And, uh, yeah, it can annoy your opponent too. Maybe.
  • The "Provoke" move in Final Fantasy X that anyone can learn forces the enemy to attack only the caster. the animations are different for each character, like slapping your ass (Rikku) to pointing at the enemy then to yourself (Wakka).
  • Fire Emblem (9 and 10 at least) has a Provoke ability, which makes enemies more likely to attack that person. It's already attached to some characters, and you can also earn one and put it on a Mighty Glacier.
    • Shinon, one of the characters with Provoke: give him a crossbow and set him out somewhere, and he'll do a fairly accurate Ike impression on the enemy forces.
  • Some games have pre-recorded taunts for use in-game, such as Age of Empires II ("All hail! King of the losers!", "Nice town. I'll take it.", "My granny can scrap better than that!").
  • Unreal Tournament games have prerecorded taunts for bots and players alike. The bots spout one after every kill, and you have the option of the game doing so for you as well.
  • Three moves in Pokémon: "Taunt", which locks the opponent into only using attack moves; "Torment" (the original Japanese name translates to "Impugn"), which impels the victim to never use the same move twice in a row; and "Swagger", which raises the target's Attack by two stages and also induces Confusion.
  • Harbinger from Mass Effect 2 loves to do this.
    • A full list can be found here.
    • A fantastic one is given by Liara to the Shadow Broker in the eponymous DLC, and the best part is very little of it was out-and-out insulting. Said Broker smugly claims that he can see everything about her, while she knows nothing about him. Liara proceeds to demonstrate her savvy as an information broker, outlining everything about the Shadow Broker: race, background, how he came to be the Shadow Broker and topping it off by calling him a "pet" of the original Broker. It works very well.
  • Shadow Hearts: Yuri Hyuga tends to taunt enemies in cut scenes, particularly Lenny, mocking the guy's intelligence until Lenny in anger tells them exactly what they wanted to know.
  • In JoJo's Bizarre Adventure: All Star Battle, taunting an opponent when they are knocked to the ground will force the camera to zoom in on the taunter as their victim's super meter is reduced. Two characters also have counter-taunts: Joseph's entail him employing his famous trick of telling his opponents what they will say next before they say it, reducing their meter and buffing his attack power; while Josuke's has his opponents taunt him, or rather, his hair, granting him immunity to flinching and buffed attack power at the cost of forcing him to continuously march towards his opponent.
  • Marvel Ultimate Alliance has a Taunt debuff as an early option for one character. It's Deadpool's. And they tend to be a bit...surreal.
    • While everyone in Marvel Vs Capcom 3 can taunt, Deadpool's is the only one that can hurt. Literally. His appear in little yellow speech bubbles that deal a small amount of damage if the opponent gets hit.
  • In Scarface: The World is Yours, you can taunt enemies to gain Balls for building towards Tony's Blind Rage.
  • In Devil May Cry titles, the various player characters can taunt to regain Devil Trigger orbs and raise their style rating for extra Red Orbs.
  • Justified in Team Fortress 2 because a large part of the game revolves around dominating your opponent and nothing is more satisfying than taunting over a nemesis' corpse. Certain weapon taunts also have the ability to inflict massive amounts of damage or outright destroy players careless enough to stand still.
    • Plus the fact that some classes have voice taunts that auto-fire after a domination (or a revenge PAST a domination) that get downright personal, in-universe. "May I borrow your earpiece? *mocking voice* This is Scout! Rainbows make me cry!"
  • In The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind you can taunt people to attack you if you have a high enough speechcraft skill, this is used to justify killing them and steal their stuff.
  • In Chrono Trigger, Marle has a spell called 'Provoke', which taunts the opponent in the hopes of making them attack her. It doesn't always work..
  • In City of Heroes, the signature move of the Tank (though Brutes and Scrappers could take it) is Taunt, which is this trope played straight: pissing off the enemy so that they attack you instead of your teammates. Apparently, the taunt is so effective, aliens, monsters and robots will drop whatever they're doing just to kill you. One of the Invention Origin enhancements you can make is even called "The Perfect Zinger," not that you ever have any idea what you're even saying...
    • The best part of "Perfect Zinger" is that you can mock a foe so thoroughly that they die from the resultant psychic damage.
  • In The Nightmare Before Christmas: Oogie's Revenge, Jack's attack repertoire involves a Taunt (where he cracks his weapon like a whip and yells "Come on!"). This infuriates nearby enemies into 'Oogie Mode' where they become stronger and gain Halloween-style Tron Lines, but drop better items and exp. It's actually required to reach many of the level goals.
  • Vega Strike communication lines can improve or worsen Relationship Value with the ship (or other unit) to whom they are addressed. An observation that the opponent learned to fly by Correspondence Course isn't taken very well.
  • Both Left 4 Dead games have a "Laugh" vocal bind players can spam and are routinely used in VS mode when the zombie players failed to kill them, causing the survivor players to keep spamming the laugh command as the points are tallied up. The sequel also adds a literal "Taunt" vocal bind for the survivors.
  • The Age of Empires series uses prerecorded soundtracks explicitly called taunts slaved to individual numeric values. This allows players to spam certain numbers in rapid succession, (eq. 11, which causes a highly annoying 'laugh' to play).
  • Many of the Medal of Honor PC games featured prerecorded soundtracks as well. Most of them were operational, such as stating they'd seen an enemy in multiplayer. But a specific subset of commands is labeled 'taunts'. However, there are so many options that they're divided into menus, which kind of makes them a little too hard to use in fast pace FPS combat.
  • In World of Warcraft Warriors do this to keep enemies focusing on them and ignoring their squishier, more dangerous allies. While all tanks do this, with skills like Taunt and Mocking Blow warriors seem to be the only ones who do it by annoying the enemy into trying to squash them. (The in-universe mechanic isn't well defined, but it can be inferred that paladins magically force people to attack them or intimidate them with holy fire, death knights actually command the foe to attack them , and druids have "RAAARGH I'm a BEAR!")
    • The new Monk class "Provokes" the target (or multiple targets.) Their taunt is so clever it increases the target's movement speed when charging at them.
  • Mortal Kombat has the infamous taunts of Shao Kahn. In the second game, he would taunt you mercilessly and in Trilogy, when you could finally play as him, he actually had these as special moves. Given his general difficulty, Shao Kahn's inability to fight straight-up and dispense with taunting is his only weakness.
    • "PATHETIC!"
  • Hazama / Terumi Yuuki employs this as a survival tactic in BlazBlue, but not in the typical, enrage-opponent-so-s/he-commits-mistakes kinda way... Or, well, not ONLY in that kinda way... Because people's hatred of Hazama sustains his existence in the world, being the biggest dick possible is a way for him to ensure his continued existence. He also gets off on making people miserable.
  • Mr. X in the Streets of Rage series will laugh at you during your fight with him if you get knocked down. In the remake, this is the same case but once Mr. X's life bar is down to 1 life or less, he stops taunting you and becomes more aggressive.
  • In Lost Odyssey, while you are selecting your actions, Jansen will tap his staff twice on the ground, hunch over, and make what seems to be 'come on' motions with his other hand. Cooke will put her hands on the side of her head and waggle her fingers in the 'na na na na boo boo' motion, while blowing a raspberry.
  • Resonance of Fate is rife with taunting and banter, and often trade quips with each other and the enemy mid-battle. Particularly with boss battles; the enemy-if humanoid/with the ability to speak- and your three protagonists will taunt each other equally. This is especially true with Hero Actions, as you're not encouraged to just stand and shoot. The funny part is the protagonists do not just taunt the 'bad guys'. They are not above throwing zingers at each other, particularly-but not exclusively- if you accidentally catch someone in friendly fire (all too easy to do), screw up a Hero Action, or otherwise blow it.
  • Assassins Creed II and Brotherhood has this as a combat mechanic. It goads one enemy into attacking Ezio early; this will end badly for the enemy because of Ezio's devastating counter-moves. Also it's amusing, at least if you can understand the insults. The more obscene ones are said in Italian.
  • Any Resident Evil game with Albert Wesker, but especially Resident Evil 5.
  • Each and every character in League of Legends can do this, obviously existing for the purpose of mocking the enemy you just squashed. The taunts in question vary from Rumble's "Come on, I'm not even holding the controls!" to Skarner's "I am ANCIENT. You are nothing but an INSECT to me!" and pretty much everything in between.
    • It gets better. Taunt is an actual status that some champions can inflict. What it does is make the ones who were inflicted with it automatically - and uncontrollably - autoattack the one who inflicted the status.
      • Of the champions that can inflict Taunt, Rammus is designed around it. His Q allows him to rush in and stun at melee range, his W boosts his defenses for a short time and causes him to return autoattack damage, and his E, Puncturing Taunt, 'reduces' your opponent's defense slightly while inflicting Taunt for up to 3 seconds. His ultimate deals AoE damage in a radius around him, likely a melee range, which is sort of a soft Taunt in teamfights due to the massive damage it can inflict in a small area over time. Rammus is a tank whose passive gives him some extra attack damage from his armor, so have fun trying to kill him before he kills you.
    • Tryndamere is a special case. While he doesn't inflict Taunt, his Mocking Shout can slow enemies who have their backs turned to him, letting him catch up to you more easily.
    • In addition to the built-in taunt mechanics, players winning a tournament game often improvise their owns taunt behaviors by intentionally doing non-optimal or harmful things in front of their opponents, like having their heroes "dance around" or deliberately waste powerful and flashy abilities or items.
  • In Tales of the Abyss, Taunting fills up your overlimit gauge faster.
  • In Tales of Legendia, Norma has a spell called "Taunt" that basically lowers enemy-attack power.
  • In Battle Arena Toshinden, the French knight Duke does this instead of using a "down attack", a tactic he considers dishonorable. Doing this during battle lowers his opponent's Overdrive meter.
  • In X-Men Legends, Toad's Taunt, Rogue's Bedazzle, and Deadpool's Wisecrack lowers the enemies stats while luring the baddies towards the hero who used the power.
  • Borderlands 2 has Salvador learn a skill which flips the bird with both hands at his enemies, taunts them, all while regenerating all of his health, and drawing all of the enemy aggro as a result. The skill name? Come At Me Bro!
    • Said skill also causes Salvador to fire off some deliciously lampshading one-liners.
  • In No One Lives Forever, the player finds themselves incarcerated and has to provoke Magnus Armstrong into a fight. He'll agree to let the player go if they win, otherwise it's a Non-Standard Game Over.
  • Saints Row: The Third offers you dozens of these in character customization. Using them against a Cop or rival Gang Member tends to get you shot.
  • One way to free Minsc at the beginning of Baldur's Gate II is to cruelly mock him. He goes berserk and breaks free of the cage. Fortunately for the player character, Minsc immediately realizes that this was why you taunted him.
  • Metal Gear Solid Psycho Mantis will taunt the player by looking announcing the other games he played in his playstaion.
  • For Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance, in the Jetstream Sam DLC, Sam can taunt his enemies. It makes them hit harder, but it also makes them weaker to your attacks. A skilled player can use this to destroy Armstrong at the end of the DLC!
  • In Full Throttle when Ben is tied and being torn by motorbikes he can threaten to call his torturer names. Actually an aversion, since Ben only needs to say the nickname Malcolm Corley gave her to prove they only had a friendly chat with Malcolm Corley and he didn't kill him.
  • In Kingdom Hearts, whenever Larxene isn't kicking the dog, she's doing this.
  • Don Flamenco from Punch-Out!! does this constantly to goad you into attacking, giving him the opportunity to counter-attack. He does it so often that you tend to attack him just to shut him up.
  • Max Payne employs this in the first game after storming an illegal arms shipment organized by mob boss Punchinello at the behest of Vladimir Lem - Payne's doing it for the revenge factor. After securing the shipment, Max takes a call from Punchinello meant for the captain and lets him know he's there and needles him in order to piss him off.
    Max, narrating: Pissing Punchinello off was a dangerous game. But when people get mad, they make mistakes. I should know. That's where I wanted Punchinello, mad enough to trip over his own feet, preferably into a grave.

    Web Comics 
  • Erfworld:
    • Parson deliberately offends Ansom's (excuse me, Prince Ansom's) traditionalist sensibilities by dismissing the concept of royalty as "obsolete," and then provokes him further by declaring that Stanley's attunement to the Arkenhammer makes him Ansom's "superior".
    • He also has his troops sing a filthy song about the Jetstonians carefully crafted from the most obscene things he can get past Erfworld's built-in "boop" filter.
  • In Gunnerkrigg Court, Jones starts badmouthing Antimony's father, in order to make Annie angry so Jones can better "assess her character". This doesn't work very well — at most, it makes Antimony marginally irritable and (rightly) suspicious of her intentions. Annie reacts more viciously when such things are said in context where they make sense, however.
  • Angel Moxie double subverts this. The girls manage to get Tsutsumu furious during their battle, but he realizes he's losing his control and takes a moment to calm himself down. Then it turns out that was their plan - he was vulnerable while he was collecting himself
  • In The Order of the Stick, Vaarsuvius does this to outsmart Nale's Kill Us Both situation.
    • But later falls victim to it him/her-self when another customer in a magic shop intentionally provokes him/her.
    • And even more later, averts this by not getting angry when V's enemy is being Defiant to the End
  • In Moon Crest 24, Aleck taunts Drake. It pretty much gets as close to a "Come at me bro!" without saying it verbatim.
  • Hwa Ryun from Tower of God taunts a Costume Copycat impersonator of Viole by calling him a stinking pig until he tries to bash her brains out. Tries.

    Web Original 
  • Happens on two separate occasions in Survival of the Fittest with the same characters: Tyson Neills and Bobby Jacks. The first time around, Tyson taunts Bobby in an attempt to provoke a fight with Troy Mc Cann (to raise his 'street credit'). The second time is on the island itself, in an attempt to make him lose his cool and do something stupid. It backfires, Bobby does lose his temper, but in the midst of his rage kills Tyson.
  • Joey steals Bandit Keith's "In America!" catchphrase in Yu-Gi-Oh! The Abridged Series. Keith goes berserk.
    • Also from The Abridged Series, Yami taunting Kaiba by making fun of his voice and motives.
      Yami: Hey everyone, look at me! I'm Seto Kaiba! I have a dragon fetish and I sound like Brock from Pokemon! Screw the rules, I'm in love with Nurse Joy!
      Kaiba: That's it, Mutou, you're f**king dead.
  • Done by some of the mouthier heroes in the Whateley Universe. Chaka has pulled this successfully both times superpowered ninjas slipped into Whateley Academy. She got the leader annoyed enough to make a major mistake. Both times. Phase pulled it off against an unbeatable, unkillable demon who had just crushed her like a bug. Literally. She managed to stall it long enough for help to show up, banishing the demon and keeping her from A Fate Worse Than Death.
  • Linkara pulls this on Lord Vyce in order to get him to come and fight him again.
  • Little One of Tales From My D&D Campaign takes this approach to all his interactions the evil Kua-Toa. From getting Angel to write insults in Kuar on his shield to decorating that same shield with teeth taken from dead K Ts to dropping a fishing line in the water he suspects to be occupied by KT warriors, he goes to great lengths to make sure the K Ts are as pissed off with him as possible. Perhaps the best is when, after slaughtering a KT patrol, he cuts the heads off, stakes the bodies upside-down, then sticks the head back on top of the whole affair (i.e., the K Ts have their heads up their behinds.)
  • Jayuzumi uses his soundboards for this purpose on a fairly frequent basis. How good natured the insults are tends to vary.

    Western Animation 
  • In Batman Beyond: Return Of The Joker, Batman (Terry McGinnis) delivers an epic verbal beatdown to, of all people, the Joker. He successfully drives the Joker over the edge, by laughing at him.
    • Extremely rare example from the original Batman himself: In "Mad Love", he taunts the Joker by saying that Harley had come closer to killing him than he (the Joker) ever had. Then Batman grins and calls him "Puddin'", Harley's pet-name for the Joker.
    • Robin did this all the time.
    • The episode Mad Love also had Batman pulling this stunt on Harley Quinn. After she tells him her plan of killing him so the Joker will love her, he actually breaks into laughter (delivered in the most haunting, chilling chuckle by Kevin Conroy), telling her the Joker only cares about himself and mockingly informing her that he's played the same mind games on her with countless other people- she's just the only one to fall for it.
  • Avatar: The Last Airbender:
    • In the episode "The Deserter", Aang does this and makes Zhao set his entire fleet on fire.
    • In a later episode, Azula wastes the heroes' time during the eclipse by mocking Sokka about Suki.
  • Aladdin does this plenty of times in Aladdin: The Series, especially to Abbis Mal.
  • When Cyborg, Beast Boy and Starfire have evil Doppelgangers of themselves made in Teen Titans, the Doppelgangers start taunting the heroes they were based on. Beast Boy's Doppelganger managed to get him to cry Berserker Tears.
  • In The Karate Kid episode " My Brother's Keeper", Kala insults his guard to make him come back so that Kala can steal his spear to cut himself loose.
  • While he doesn't often use it against his enemies, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle Michelangelo, in true sibling fashion, knows that taunting is a hugely effective weapon against Raphael, and will always use it when fighting him.
    • This tactic backfired horribly once when Mikey made Raphael so angry he nearly caved his head in with a blunt instrument. Naturally Ralph was horrified at his action and spent the episode learning An Aesop about self-control.
  • In Transformers Animated, Prowl had Bumblebee use his greatest weapon against Blitzwing to force him into his angry personality, whose corresponding vehicle mode was grounded instead of flying so as to have him crash midflight:
    Bumblebee: What, my stingers? My turbo-speed?
    Prowl: Your obnoxious personality.
  • In My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic's second season finale, the villain traps Twilight Sparkle in a cave and taunts her until Twilight is attacking with magic. Not only does the magic ricochet all over the place, but Twilight attacks the pony that the villain has been masquerading as.
  • Jackie Chan Adventures: In "Bullies", Valmont gets his hands on the dragon talisman, which provides the power of combustion, which he uses to rob Fort Knox. Jackie follows him, and remembering his own struggles with his Berserk Button (Captain Black's injuries by Valmont) throughout the episode, decides to press Valmont's Berserk Button by tossing gold overboard, while sarcastically asking things like "How much is this gold worth? A new Ferrari?"

    Real Life 
  • This is very common in Poker, to the point where it has acquired the name putting someone "on tilt." It's actually risky to the insulter, because it can be a clue as to what you want the person to do.
    • Or, you know, you can get punched in the face.
      • Then you can get them arrested for assault AND sue them. Win-win.
  • The page quote comes from Sun Tzu. The future founder of the Han Dynasty, Liu Bang, took this to heart, using it a lot in battles against his famously-irritable rival Xiang Yu.
    • When Xiang Yu captured Liu Bang's father and (from across a ravine) threatened to boil him alive, Liu's response was "Send me a cup of the soup!"
      • That same taunt was part of an exchange that led Xiang Yu to shooting an arrow at Liu Bang, which struck him in the chest. His response was to shout "Ow, my foot!". Probably a subversion, since having their leader struck in the chest would easily demoralize the army in question, and Liu Bang couldn't afford to have that.
  • This is the only tactic of trolls.
  • In Iraq, during the early months of the invasion and occupation, coalition troops routinely lured insurgents out of cover and into reckless, bullet-spraying charges by insulting their manhood. As they were charging headlong into a few DOZEN machine guns when they did this, it routinely went badly for the insurgents.
  • A common tactic in various sports when one player attempts to provoke another one into doing something stupid. There tends to be a fine line, because the taunting itself can get penalized if it's too blatant or caught.
    • A famous example of the above tactic gone somewhat wrong was made during the final match of the 2006 FIFA World Cup. Italian player Marco Materazzi taunted his French counterpart Zinedine Zidane by insulting Zidane's sister. While it did work (Zidane got a red card), the reason it worked was that Zidane gave Materazzi a headbutt to the chest.
  • The use of skirmishers in traditional (i.e. formation-based) warfare followed this trope: Skirmishers would range in front of an army in a scattered formation and pelt enemy melee infantry informations with javelins, arrows, sling stones and other light missiles. This would cause undisciplined enemies to break formation and charge the skirmishers, who would feign retreat back to their own lines where friendly infantry could deal with the enemies who broke formation.
  • In schools around the world, this is how bullies work - many zero tolerance policies either punish both people involved or give a greater punishment to the person who throws the first punch. So they want you to throw the first punch so you get in more trouble than they do.
  • Al-Qaeda want their enemies (which are far bigger than they are) to be stretched thin, unable to focus, and spend their funding like there is no tomorrow. To this end, they are making attacks that basically amount to mere taunts in its scale of damage. Considering the length of the War On Terror and the sorry economic state of said enemies, it seems to have been Crazy Enough to Work.
    "[It is] easy for us to provoke and bait this administration. All that we have to do is to send two mujahidin to the furthest point east to raise a piece of cloth on which is written al-Qaeda, in order to make the generals race there and cause America to suffer human, economic, and political losses [...]"
  • During World War I, Italy's (in)famous Warrior Poet Gabriele D'Annunzio did it twice:
    • First, the Bakar Mockery: he led a trio of MAS (basically, motorboats with a pair of torpedoes strapped on the sides) into the most surveilled harbour of the Austro-Hungarian empire, fired torpedoes at the moored ships (ineffectively, as the Austro-Hungarian admiralty had placed torpedo nets in case the Italians managed to elude the surveillance) and left numerous bottles with mocking messages in, in the attempt to lure the fleet to give chase... And get in an ambush. On the short term it failed, apparently because the Austro-Hungarians were too shocked by what had just happened to come out, but on the long term the Austro-Hungarians lost their flagship when they replied with a large-scale raid and the ship ran in the crews of the MAS that had supported D'Annunzio;
    • Second, and most famous, the Flight Over Vienna. The Austro-Hungarians had recently launched a bombing raid on Milan as a warning. D'Annunzio led a squadron over Vienna (believed to be outside the range of contemporary bombers. Except the Italians had something with more then enough range) and dropped leaflets, some with an horrible poem written by D'Annunzio himself (horrible enough it was not translated) and most with a message that can be summed with "You bombed Milan believing yourself invulnerable. You're not, be grateful we're too civilized to bomb Vienna to rubble and surrender before we change our minds". Austro-Hungarian morale plummeted after that, especially because the whole squadron got away with it.