Instant Humiliation: Just Add YouTube!

Ned: So how'd the fight go?
Mark: Oh you know, it was pretty even, basically a draw...
Ned: Really? On YouTube it looked like you got your ass kicked.

In modern fiction, characters will post embarrassing videos of each other on YouTube (or something eerily similar). This functions just like public humiliation, but instead of just their friends and family, it's everyone in the entire world. For such a young medium (YouTube was founded in 2005), this trope has acclimated rather well.

There's no closing the floodgates once word of mouth (or, more likely, word of Facebook and Reddit) starts travelling. Typically, the video will become a viral sensation, getting millions of views in a manner of days. Although not as common as depicted in the media, it is Truth in Television.

Compare Instant Web Hit and Stupid Statement Dance Mix.


    open/close all folders 

  • This Mountain Dew ad featuring none other than Chuck Norris.
  • In an ad for AT&T cellphone-with-internet where the Catch Phrase is "it says...," there's a man in a hospital surrounded by his family. The son is looking at his phone replaying the video of dad wiping out on a snowmobile. "It says you have 4 million hits."
  • There was a Dare Iced Coffee ad in Australia that was a montage of all the awkward things your girlfriend might want to tell you over coffee. One of them was, "Remember that video we made? It went viral."

    Anime and Manga 
  • Played for Drama in Wolf Guy - Wolfen Crest, in which Haguro kidnaps Aoshika, has her raped, posts it online, and makes Akira watch it to draw him out in retaliation.
  • Hiruma from Eyeshield 21 does this to taunt Leonard Apollo, coach of the Nasa Aliens, after he cancels the US vs. Japan American football game. Hiruma depicts Apollo as a (literal) chicken getting his ass kicked by the Devil Bats in order to badger him into going through with the match.
  • Many pre-internet examples happened in Maicchingu Machiko Sensei. Aside from the eponymous teacher regularly losing her clothes in public, there are many times in which those instances are caught on tape or photographed, then posted or shown on school bulletin boards, during a slide show, etc.

    Comic Books 
  • In Empowered, our heroine is filmed while just getting conscious after being beaten down earlier. Unfortunately, she was drooling a bit, and her "mmhwhuh?" doesn't help. Neither do her Jerk Ass teammates who use the "youtoob" screenshot as their new monitor wallpaper.
  • Subverted in Kick-Ass, when Kick-Ass' first attempt to fight crime ends in a Curbstomp Battle in the criminals' favor. His brutal defeat is filmed by a bystander on his cell phone and the subsequent upload of this video on Youtube, specifically because he keeps trying to get back up to fight, becomes the inspiration for multiple others to join his cause.
  • In the 2015 reboot of Prez, the protagonist's first brush with fame comes when an embarrassing video uploaded by a co-worker goes viral.

    Fan Works 

  • In Zack and Miri Make a Porno, a video of Miri in her "granny panties" becomes an instant sensation, inspiring the characters to try and make a movie.
  • In Hellboy II: The Golden Army, one of Tom Manning's jobs is to deny the existence of Hellboy and the BPRD. So the fact that videos of Hellboy keep popping up on YouTube is indirectly embarrassing for him.
    Tom Manning: I suppress each photo, cell phone videos, they cost me a fortune, and then they show up on Youtube... God, I hate Youtube.
  • Happens several times in Sex Drive. Felicia is taking a piss in the car's radiator to give it some needed fluid - a car comes by & one of the kids in the back takes a picture which ends up on Ian gets a boner at an abstinence rally and people video & post it. Etc.
  • In Hancock, PR executive Ray (Jason Bateman) shows Hancock (Will Smith) YouTube videos of the objectionable actions he takes as a superhero. In one, he grabs ice cream from an ice cream truck nearly-naked with his clothes burnt off. In another, he's shown grabbing (by the tail) a whale that had beached itself, and tossing it out to sea hundreds of yards away, smashing a small boat.
    Hancock: I don't even remember that.
    Ray: Greenpeace does. Walter [the whale] does.
  • In 17 Again, the main character gets in a fight at school, which he loses badly. He tries to tell his "father", Ned, note  that it was a draw, but Ned says he saw it on YouTube.
  • In Brazilian film, the starting point is a sexual failure of the protagonist being put on Youtube and turning him into a local mockery.
  • This seems to be the entire plot of Never Back Down.
  • Near the beginning of Iron Man 2, Tony is Hauled Before a Senate Subcommittee because he refuses to share his signature Powered Armor with the US government. He proceeds to make a mockery of it. By the time he gets home, his antics are already on Youtube with 1,890,873 views, much to Tony's amusement.
  • Used seriously in National Treasure 2 with the revelation that one of Ben's ancestors may have been complicit in the assassination of Abraham Lincoln. Ben's father compares the situation to that of Samuel Mudd, who was convicted for treating John Wilkes Booth but later pardoned, yet could never live it down. Once the video goes online, he complains that it'll never go away.
  • Again, used seriously in Skyfall. A hard drive containing the identities and current assignments of all the undercover NATO agents is compromised. Silva is posting them online at a rate of five each week. Also, three of the agents were caught and had their executions filmed and put on YouTube.
  • In the 2013 version of Carrie, Chris films Carrie's humiliation in the shower and posts it on YouTube. This bites her in the ass when Miss Desjardin and the principal use the video to point to her as the ringleader of the prank.
  • In Grudge Match a Running Gag has people pull out cell phones to record these two old guys (the protagonists) fighting. This is what inspires a promoter to get them out of retirement for one last match.
  • In Birdman, the clip of the protagonist walking in underwear on NY Time Square goes viral and receives 50,000 clicks on youtube within a day.
  • In Barely Lethal the video of Megan beating up some guys while in her team mascot uniform quickly goes viral.
  • In The Duff, Caitlyn caught Bianca having her little dance and action on the mannequin pretending it was Toby and later attempt to flirt with a bunch of guys, filmed it on her phone, later edited it to match the beat of Anaconda by Nicki Minaj and #Selfie by The Chainsmokers and uploaded it to YouTube and gained a viral hit just to humiliate Bianca further. Those videos got taken off later as cyberbullying though.
  • Smosh: The Movie combines this with Trapped in TV Land as Anthony and Ian attempt to get inside the humiliating video to change it.

  • Artemis Fowl does this to one of the main villains in one book.
    • The video of Holly's encounter with a troll is later used by the academy as a prime example of how not to fight a troll.
  • Vampire Mine by Kerrelyn Sparks has this. One of the villains uploads a video to youtube showing one of the vampires turning to dust upon dying to prove that vampires exist and, essentially, ruin their existance.
  • In Troy Rising, Comet earns her callsign by shooting the gap of a closing bay door and surviving a "hard landing" against the back wall of the bay with zero passenger casualties. This happened to be the main bay of Troy, the largest battle station in the solar system with a kilometer-thick door made of solid nickel-iron. Video footage of her (heroic, life-saving, incredibly necessary) stunt goes viral. The evening news considers it to be more exciting than the subsequent battle against the alien fleet that forced her to do it in the first place. The humiliating part of it is that her CO doesn't know whether to promote her or court-martial her. She is finally reassigned to Thermopylae so she can figure out why they are having such a high rate of hardware failure, which is a punishment.
  • In Moon Over Soho, Peter hooks up with Simone on a rooftop. Shortly after she leaves to fetch breakfast, he realizes he's left his clothes down in her apartment, and anxiously scans the horizon for helicopters because he's afraid someone may put him on YouTube as "Naked Dickhead On Roof LOL".

    Live Action TV 
  • In The Big Bang Theory, Sheldon gives a drunken acceptance speech for an award banquet. The video was up on YouTube and went viral.
    • So is when Sheldon and Leonard fight at a scientific conference. And when Raj got drunk while doing a speech on Howard's bachelor party.
  • Marnie Michaels on Girls shot a really bad music video in pursuit of her music career. It gets uploaded to YouTube. It makes everyone very uncomfortable.
  • Phil Dunphy of Modern Family stands up at a town council meeting and defends himself (badly) from accusations that he's a pervert. An video called "Public meeting pervert - autotuned" quickly goes viral.
  • On Glee, a video of Sue Sylvester jazzercizing is uploaded to YouTube and becomes so popular that it leads to a duet with Olivia Newton John.
    • Subverted when Sue threatens to post an embarrassing airline safety video the principal was in. Turns out he had posted it himself and it only got three hits.
    • Played straight again in "The Kiss That Missed" humiliation at Nationals and the "Mercedes Inferno" performance of Disco Inferno.
    • Rachel's college dance instructor, Cassandra July, is a performer whose rise to fame was cut short when she attacked an audience member for answering his cell phone during her show. Someone recorded the whole thing and put it online, and the resulting humiliation sank her career just as it was getting off the ground, causing her to settle for teaching since it was the only work she could get. Needless to say, she has a massive chip on her shoulder and is a Lady Drunk.
  • On Men of a Certain Age, an embarrassing commercial Terry was in from the 80's is posted on YouTube. It gets millions of viewers, inspires remixes, and becomes so popular that the company wants Terry and the original actress to reprise their roles.
  • Saturday Night Live had a one-off (so far) Show Within a Show "I Didn't Ask for This," where people with embarassing videos posted to youtube came on and said "I Didn't Ask for This." One of them did something embarassing on the show and the others took cellphone videos of it and posted it.
  • While apparently falling in a clip on The Colbert Report, Stephen shouted "Please nobody post this on Youtube!"
  • Lie to Me: In "Killer App", Cal leaks an audio clip of Zach being an ass onto the Internet. Cal trying to be hip by using the latest buzzword announces that it went viral.
  • One episode of 30 Rock shows the 1-900 sex line advertisement Liz did early in her career. It's ... special.
  • Degrassi: The Next Generation uses this in season 5's opener. Manny's drunk, and she strips off her top and bra and says "I'm going to be an actress, Academy Award winning, and you can sell this for a million dollars because I. Am. Going to be. FAMOUS!!!!" in front of Peter.
  • On How I Met Your Mother, Marshall discovers that there's a video of him interrupting a college news report by running in naked and drunk, calling himself Beercules. He finds the guy who posted it and tried to get him to take it down, but it ends up happening again. There are also Robin's old videos as Canadian teen pop idol Robin Sparkles. Videos of Ted breaking down while giving speeches at weddings are a minor YouTube hit.
    • There was also a YouTube video of Robin vomiting on her news show. It's heavily implied that Barney posted the video on YouTube.
  • Done in The Office (US) to Andy, who mentions that there is even a support group for YouTube victims. Although he bounces back and even finds himself somewhat subject to You Are the New Trend
  • Discussed briefly in QI. The panel were discussing the folding of paper, and what was needed to fold a piece of paper in half X number of times. Stephen Fry said, "What you need is length and thickness", to which Alan eventually replied, "That's gonna be snipped out, straight on YouTube." It was, the very next day.
  • Played seriously on Teen Wolf. Erica, who used to be epileptic, tells Stiles that the one saving grace about her fits was that she couldn't remember them afterwards - and then she had a seizure in class and her classmates, instead of helping her, uploaded a video of it to YouTube. One begins to understand why she accepted the bite.
  • A Deleted Scene from political satire The Thick of It shows party spin doctor Malcolm Tucker dashing away from being interviewed for a Daily Telegraph live podcast. Naturally, it gets put on their website with the headline "Tucker Spurns Our Man On The Ground". Given that Malcolm is a tremendous Jerk Ass, it's not long before people are gleefully mocking it.
    • A non-deleted scene mentions that when Niccola Murray (whose husband has been revealed to have ethically questionable business ties) gets manipulated into smiling and thumbs-upping in front of a sign that says "I AM BENT" (it actually reads LIAM BENTLEY but the shot has been zoomed-in and cut), someone forwarded her a video on Youtube of her humiliation coupled with some sort of dance mix. Her complaints aren't merely about the fact that someone did it, but that it isn't even funny.
  • An episode of the The Closer had Brenda being hit repeatedly with a bouquet by a Bridezilla while trying to shut down a church to examine extra bodies being put in coffins to cover up murders. Later in the episode, Chief Pope tells her that the woman's wedding photographers got it on video, and the video has gone viral. "Congratulations - you're currently the most downloaded fully-clothed woman on the Internet."
  • Bunheads combines this scene with a Stupid Statement Dance Mix to get: It's Time To Dance!
  • In one episode of Blue Bloods an anti-NYPD blogger posts a video of a cop beating the crap out of an old man. He had maliciously edited out the part where the old man made a grab for the officer's Glock. Later a music video version turns up, set to "Another One Bites the Dust". Frank gets an A.D.A. to subpoena the original and releases it to the media to prove to the world that the officer acted within policy and puts him back on duty.
  • On Misfits, Rudy accidentally sends the video he made of Jess defecating to his entire contact list (It Makes Just As Much Sense In Context). Someone puts the video on the internet, and it goes viral. Jess is not pleased when she finds out. Probation worker Greg tries to comfort Jess by telling her a third-person account of how a young man on whom he had a crush passed the video Greg sent him to confess his feelings around the pre-YouTube internet.
  • Rizzoli & Isles: In "Somebody's Watching Me", Jane spills coffee on a woman in a coffee store. The incident is filmed, edited to make her appear a total bitch, and put on YouTube where it becomes a viral hit. The incident turns out to be a set-up to sue Jane and force her to sell her condo.
  • The TV adaptation of Scream opens with Alpha Bitch Nina and her boyfriend Tyler filming her classmate Audrey making out with another girl, then uploading it to Cliplicious and outing her as a lesbian. Nina and Tyler are brutally murdered soon after, possibly as retaliation for the video.
  • Used as a threat in Doctor Who: In "The Girl Who Died", the Doctor and Clara trick the aliens of the week into being terrified of things like the figurehead of a Viking longship, then threaten to post it to, basically, Space Youtube to completely ruin said aliens' reputation as badass warriors unless they go away.

    Newspaper Comics 
  • In a Zits strip, Jeremy tries to tell a friend about something embarrassing that happened to him in the school cafeteria, only to learn that it has already been posted on the internet.
    • Another occasion featured Jeremy and Sarah in a Love Is... parody called "Love Isn't..." Sarah had tripped while carrying her lunch tray, while Jeremy capturing everything on his phone. The caption read, "Love isn't posting everything on YouTube."
  • Monroe was once caught outside his house by a police officer who mistook him for a sex offender, and became #1 on YouTube the very next day.

    Stand Up Comedy 
  • In Bill Engvall's bit about his colonoscopy, he notes that as he's being led out of the doctor's office by his wife, still loopy from the drugs and walking funny he stops for a moment to turn to the hospital staff and say "I better not see this on Youtube!"

    Video Games 

    Visual Novels 
  • Occurs if you choose to take a photo of Robin in One Night Stand while she's sleeping to prove to Gary you did get lucky. A friend sends her the photo shortly after, and it spreads all around Facebook.

    Web Comics 

    Web Original 
  • In Noob, one of the players gets his avatar stuck in dancing mode by a hacker on regular basis and a guildmate that hates him films every single occurrence to post it on her blog.
  • Done in this video, where over a billion people avidly mock a guy for... legally buying anime.
  • The Veronica Exclusive features this when, having found out about Veronica insulting them on her vlog, the Heathers steal Veronica's personal diary and read it aloud on camera, uploading the footage to the internet. However, Veronica takes the video down almost immediately, and then the death of Heather Chandler diverts all attention from the vlog, anyway.

    Western Animation 
  • The Fairly OddParents
    • In "Information Stupor Highway", Timmy stumbles across the scene of Crocker being forced to try on a red dress by his mother and records it for future humiliation. The file (instead of video evidence of Timmy's fairies) is eventually uploaded to every media outlet in the world and the entire planet gets a laugh out of it, much to Crocker's embarrassment.
    • In the Wishology movie, Timmy uploads a cartoon of Dark Laser making farting noises (with the help of a woopie cushion) to get him to come down to Earth so they could use his spaceship.
  • Foster's Home for Imaginary Friends, "World Wide Wabbit": a video of Mr. Herriman doing his "Funny Bunny" routine for Madame Foster gets posted on the internet and becomes a hit.
  • Happens to Dr. Doofenshmirtz in the Phineas and Ferb episode "Tip of the Day", when an old video he made in high school of him roller-skating in his underwear and getting his head stuck in a toilet wound up on the Internet. "Always check the box, Perry the Platypus..."
    • Candace sees the Instant Web Hit that the boys put on their website in "Lights, Candace, Action" as this— it wasn't malicious in any way, though; The Stinger from that episode showed that others thought she was really cool for playing the "Swamp Monster of Danville".
  • Bender and Fry's twitter battle in the Futurama episode "Attack of the Killer App" ends with Fry releasing a video of Leela's singing butt boil to the world. To make it up to her, he releases a worse one of himself diving into a hot tub full of two-headed goat puke. And hitting the concrete instead. And then falling in anyway.
  • This is the basis of the Jimmy Two-Shoes episode "Spew Tube."
  • Kick Buttowski tries to take the #1 spot on "rank of awesome" and eventually succeeds; and every time Brad embarrasses himself in front of a crowd, it ends up with a video uploaded to the internet.
  • In South Park, when Randy Marsh stupidly says the N-word on Wheel of Fortune, Cartman later notes how many times he watched the clip on youtube.
  • In American Dad! when Stan defecated in a swimming pool while doing a cannonball. Everywhere he turns, people laugh at him viewing the video footage. He fakes his death and escapes to where no one heard his misfortune, but fails. Stan then attempt to put the same fate on President Obama, so people will forget his incident. It all turns out to be his dream fantasy before diving (still with intestinal trouble)... until he defecates in the pool for real.
  • In My Little Pony: Equestria Girls, the human versions of the Cutie Mark Crusaders are chagrined to find everyone is laughing at a video they uploaded of themselves performing a song. More importantly, Sunset Shimmer manages to upload a video of Twilight Sparkle trying to adjust to becoming a human, done in the style of a political attack ad, in an effort to embarrass her and keep her out of the running for Princess of the Fall Formal.
  • In The Amazing World of Gumball episode "The Secret", the ending reveals that Darwin uploaded a video of Gumball falling all over himself trying to dance.
  • In the Littlest Pet Shop (2012) episode "What, Meme Worry?" Brittany and Whittany Biskit see a viral meme of Sunil the mongoose, which has received all thumbs up. Determined to become famous in a similar fashion, the twins make a music video of themselves (and their rapping butler) singing and rapping about how cute the two of them are. The video also goes viral but receives nothing but negative feedback; even a recording of Zoe howling in disgust at the song receives entirely positive reception, even more than Sunil's meme.
  • Happens twice to Todd in The Replacements episode "Todd-Busters".
  • In the We Bare Bears episode "Panda's Sneeze", Panda is highly embarrassed when a video of him sneezing in an adorable and undignified way goes viral.

    Real Life 
  • The Star Wars Kid, who accidentally left a video of himself swinging a golf club like a lightsaber in his school, became an Internet phenomenon when someone else found it and was subsequently subjected to bullying.
  • In a more disturbing form of this trope, some people have published sex tapes with themselves and their partners online with most partners not even aware such a video was being recorded. This practice has been given the official name of 'Revenge Porn' and has been made illegal in several countries with the owner of a site dedicated to showing these videos was convicted of aiding the crime.
  • Alongside with bullying, teenagers that are looking to humiliate their victims further will physically assault them (with the victim unable to fight back) while the bully's friends record the beatdown on their cell phone and upload it on the internet for all to see.