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Normally, people gain inspiration and motivation from encouragement. Sometimes though, being insulted works better as a motivating source, as now the person is going to try and succeed in whatever task it is they are going to do just
to spite the insulter.
There are two common variations of this trope.
- The insulter did not intend for their target to draw inspiration from the insult given to them.
- The insulter did intend for their target to draw inspiration from the insult given to them.
The first variation is not to be confused with Insult Backfire
, since that is about the insulted party getting flattered, not motivated.
The Compassionate Critic
will give out lots of these, while The Trickster Mentor
might give out only some of these, and it's part and parcel of a Drill Sergeant Nasty
Could be part of some Enforced Method Acting
Supertrope to Nobody Calls Me Chicken
, which is specific to insulting a person's courage and often used to make the person do something against their better judgement.
Examples must note the insult part and the drawing-inspiration-from-the-insult part.
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Anime and Manga
- in the first chapter of One Piece, Shanks gives a young Luffy a good-natured jab about how Luffy will never succeed as a pirate, which prompts Luffy to declare that we will succeed and be a better pirate than Shanks. Shanks gives his hat to Luffy in encouragement after that.
- The plot of Skip Beat! starts because Shou, on dismissing his childhood friend Kyouko, calls her a plain, boring, worthless girl with no talent, and that the only method of revenge she could use against him would be beat him in the entertainment world, which for a girl like her would be impossible. Kyouko, furious for having been duped into being her servant by him exploiting her devotion, has since set herself into proving him wrong on all of those points, so far with a certain degree of success.
- Edward of Fullmetal Alchemist became fully determined to win an arm wrestling contest while in Rush Valley when the promoter insulted his short stature and said he wouldn't win anyway. Edward won but Alphonse says it was because Ed used Alchemy.
- After Teresa comes Back from the Dead in Claymore, she calls Cassandra the Dust Eater, a fellow former number one of her respective generation, out on her letting herself be devoured by Priscilla, who has never risen above the second rank. She proceeds to question whether Cassandra has lost all her pride, until she literally breaks out of Priscilla's body to show just who exactly she was messing with. This proves to be a sound strategy on Teresa's part, serving both to weaken Priscilla considerably and to let Cassandra finally Face Death with Dignity.
- During Secret Wars while the Hulk is holding a 150 billion ton mountain up so the rest of the team can survive, when he starts getting fatigued Reed Richards insults him, inspiring him to hold the mountain up a while longer. Hulk calls Reed out on this later.
- In Cars, Doc tells Lightning who fell into the cactus that his driving is as lousy as his ability to fix roads, giving Lightning more motivation to do a proper job in fixing the road he damaged. Lightning even says "I'll show him."
- In Monsters University, after Roar Omega Roar pulls an embarrassing prank on Oozma Kappa, one of the pranksters jokingly suggests that Mike's frat can find work in the mailroom at Monster, Inc., instead of being scarers. This gives Mike the idea to sneak his Oozma Kappa members into the factory and raise their morale before the next Scare Games events.
Film - Live Action
- In The Karate Kid 3 Daniel gets up to face Barnes again after Barnes yells, "Your karate's junk. You're nothing. Your slope teacher's nothing!" This gives Daniel more motivation to win.
- Shaun of the Dead: An angry rant by Pete, the main character's frustrated roommate (even more frustrated than usual after having been unknowingly bitten by a zombie and having his dumb flatmates play records extremely loudly in the wee hours of the morning), ends on "Sort your fucking life out, mate!" The next morning, "Sort your life out" is on Shaun's to-do list, and becomes the film's theme.
- Toward the end of Down with Love, Peter finally gets the courage to make a move on Vicki when she, upset with him over something else, slaps him and tells him that he's "just like every other man!" So he realizes that he needs to stop overthinking it, just "be a man", get out of his head and into her pants. So he does.
- Occurs twice with Lola Bunny in Space Jam. During the tryouts at Schlesinger's Gym, Bugs Bunny puts the move on Lola, asking, "You wanna play a little one-on-one, doll?" Lola's Fireball Eyeballs signal that she severely dislikes being regarded as a pretty face and nothing more. She quickly leaves Bugs in a ridiculous knot at the foul line, and throws down an impressive jam. Later, during the Ultimate Game, the Monstar Pound challenges Lola, "Try to get by me, doll." After disarranging Pound's face, Lola throws down another strong jam. Notable in that these are the only times that Lola Bunny is seen scoring points.
- Redwall: The Bellmaker, several of the heroes are trapped in a tower, with their only hope of rescue a rope brought to them by a shrike (aka butcher bird). Unfortunately, the rope is too heavy for the bird, so the hare starts insulting, a previously noted Berserk Button. The shrike makes it to the tower, fully intent on proving its name, but is convinced to leave instead.
- In Ned's Declassified School Survival Guide, Vice Principle Crubbs tells Mr. Wright who wasn't going to try for the principal position anyway that he wouldn't make a good principal. This irks Mr. Wright and he decides to go and try for the principal position. This even gets lampshaded.
- The second variation was in play during an episode of The Love Boat. Jimmy Osmond played a novice actor shooting a scene, who just couldn't get it right. The director wasn't satisfied with his believability. He wasn't conveying enough anger and hurt. After repeated tries, the director called a break, during which the captain's daughter Vicki ripped into him about how he might as well give it up. He was a horrible failure of an actor, and he wasn't ever going to succeed. On the next take, he nailed it. Vicki had insulted him deliberately to make him angry and produce that result.
- In an early episode of Breaking Bad, Jesse finds an old test paper marked by Walt, on which he's written "Ridiculous - apply yourself." Jesse takes the advice and applies himself to making meth.
- In a later episode, Jesse proudly shows off to Walt that he can successfully duplicate his signature 99-Percent-Pure blue meth. Walt is less than pleased to see Jesse can copy it, and insults him for it, inspiring Jesse to push harder into the meth business.
- Seinfeld invokes this in "The Cartoon," in which washed-up actress Sally Weaver takes Jerry's criticism (actually said by Kramer) of her acting abilities (or lack thereof) and applies it to her new stand-up rountine she calls Jerry Seinfeld is the Devil, in which she basically just mocks everything Jerry does or say to her to make him seem like a bigger Jerkass. Her new act launches her into celebrity status overnight.
- Mocked in another episode; George is trying to get fired from his job at the Yankees so he can get a new, lucrative job with the Mets, but his attempts to get canned are all backfiring. Jerry gives him a "Pep-Talk."
George: Who'd have thought I could fail at failing? I can't do anything wrong-
Jerry: Nonsense! You do everything wrong.
George: You really think so?
Jerry: Absolutely. I have no confidence in you.
George: Alright... I guess I just have to pick myself up, dust myself off, and throw myself right back down again!
Jerry: That's the spirit. You suck!
- Doctor Who: "The Ark In Space", the Doctor intentionally insults Sarah Jane and hurts her feelings in order to help her achieve the Air-Vent Passageway escape. Needless to say, he doesn't mean it.
- Invoked in an I Meant to Do That way on The Simpsons. In "The PTA Disbands" Mrs. Krabappel and Principal Skinner have a heated discussion in the cafeteria during lunch.
Mrs. Krabappel: Seymour, you have to think of the children's future.
Seymour: Oh, Edna. We all know that these children HAVE no future!.
[everyone stops and stares at Seymour]
Seymour: nervous laugh Prove me wrong, children. Prove me wrong.