The "Kick Me" prank is iconic; it's the
go-to prank for unoriginal bullies. It's utile enough that a bully can use it to show he's a bully; he wants a victim kicked. Everyone gets to be in on the joke and the poor victim can't figure out why everyone's being so mean to him. This usually also demonstrates the Butt Monkey
status of the victim.
It can also be used to show that the erstwhile victim is clever
; he knows that the bully is a bully and thus pulls the paper off his back.
It can be used to show that a bystander is heroic when he pulls the sign off another's back, or that he's a Knight in Sour Armor
by cracking wise as he does so.
The prank comes in infinite variety. The prank requested need not be a kick; it could be a slap, a poke, or a tickle. It could be a message like, "Laugh, but don't tell me about it" or an insulting/humiliating message. Sometimes it's not even a bad thing; it could be a request for a hug.
Check your back.
- This◊ issue of Superman.
- This tropes forms the image on the Quantum and Woody page.
- Done mutually◊ ("kick my butt" and "I eat dog waste" respectively) by Lobo and The Mask in their Intercontinuity Crossover.
- Fantastic Four
- When Spider-Man left the alien symbiote behind and didn't have a spare costume, he gets an older FF suit to wear, and Johnny Storm provides a paper bag (since the FF didn't wear masks) to conceal Spidey's identity, leading him to briefly become the "Amazing Bag-Man". Johnny, ever the prankster, also gave Spidey a "Kick Me" sign on the back, that (combined with the bag mask) led onlookers to suspect it was some sort of initiation prank.
- The Yancy Street Gang's been known to do this to the Thing from time to time as part of their ongoing rivalry. Johnny's probably done this to Ben too.
- King Smurf in The Smurfs comic book story of the same name gets "Down with King Smurf" placed on the back of his royal cape after he sees the graffiti marking up Smurf houses saying the same thing.
- Daria is seen with one in one of the Beavis and Butt-Head tie-in comics.
- In the first Back to the Future, Past!Biff Tannen, unoriginal bastard what he is, loves this bit. Principal Strickland even lampshades it. Poor George McFly.
- In the fifth Police Academy film, Lt. Lassard puts sunblock on Captain Harris while he is getting a suntan, and when he wakes up, he finds people calling him "dork" because that is what's written on his chest by Lassard in sunblock using Tan Lines.
- A Fistful of Dollars: At the start of the movie when Clint Eastwood's character rides into town he passes a man riding out with a "Adios amigos" sign on his back.
- Older than You Think: Don Quixote was victim of this trope at 1615:
That afternoon they took Don Quixote out for a stroll, not in his armour but in street costume, with a surcoat of tawny cloth upon him, that at that season would have made ice itself sweat. Orders were left with the servants to entertain Sancho so as not to let him leave the house. Don Quixote was mounted, not on Rocinante, but upon a tall mule of easy pace and handsomely caparisoned. They put the surcoat on him, and on the back, without his perceiving it, they stitched a parchment on which they wrote in large letters, "This is Don Quixote of La Mancha." As they set out upon their excursion the placard attracted the eyes of all who chanced to see him, and as they read out, "This is Don Quixote of La Mancha," Don Quixote was amazed to see how many people gazed at him, called him by his name, and recognised him, and turning to Don Antonio, who rode at his side, he observed to him, "Great are the privileges knight-errantry involves, for it makes him who professes it known and famous in every region of the earth; see, Don Antonio, even the very boys of this city know me without ever having seen me."
"True, Senor Don Quixote," returned Don Antonio; "for as fire cannot be hidden or kept secret, virtue cannot escape being recognised; and that which is attained by the profession of arms shines distinguished above all others."
- In the first season April Fool's Day episode of Community, Leonard does this to the dean during the opening deannouncements.
- In an episode of Scrubs, Kelso was ready to throw a patient (who happens to be Dr Cox's mentor) out of the hospital just before he nearly died, and then takes credit for saving his life. Cox puts a sign on Kelso's back saying "Never stop kicking me". The patient removes it ... and discovers it's on the back of the discharge form.
Dr Kelso: Oh, very clever.
Dr Cox: What? It wasn't me. I think you put it there yourself to get attention.
- Dorothy, being a substitute teacher, rather expectedly gets this treatment in The Golden Girls.
- Friends: This is one of the many pranks Rachel teaches Ross's son, Ben.
- On NewsRadio, Bill puts a "Spaz" sign on Matthew.
- In an episode of How I Met Your Mother, Lily and Robin stick a sign on Barney's back requesting that he be called Swarley.
- Parodied in Just Shoot Me!. Finch puts a sign saying "Spank Me" onto Nina's back. She turns around and says, "Now, you're sure everyone can see it?"
- On The Big Bang Theory, Sheldon tries this prank at the most inappropiate time, after Penny seemingly breaks up with Leonard after Leonard hesitates to respond to her marriage proposal.
- In the seventh season of Castle, Castle spends an episode hanging out in a second-grade classroom. At the end, he and the class bully exchange a "truce" hug. Each puts a sign on the other's back. "JERKFACE" and "FROG BREATH".
- Referenced in the first line of "If You're Going Through Hell (Before the Devil Even Knows)" by Rodney Atkins: "You know those times it feels like there's a sign there on your back / Says 'I don't mind if you kick me, seems like everybody has'."
- Dilbert thinks his co-workers have put a sign on his back, and leaves work early to avoid being slapped on the back constantly. Turned out there was no sign, but the men's room was out of paper towels and they were using Dilbert's shirt to dry their hands.
- In one strip, the Pointy-Haired Boss uses this trope in an attempt to increase office morale. In this case, the employees know they have the signs on their back, but can't remove them because the boss said so. Naturally, Hilarity Ensues when Alice takes advantage of the situation.
- A Garfield strip used a variant of this. Jon came home looking dirty and beaten up, because someone apparently stuck a "Bury Me Alive" sign on his back.
- In another strip, Garfield literally gets a "Kick Me" sign on his back, courtesy of Odie.
- The Far Side had a comic where a bear had a "Shoot Me" sign on his back, and another where a donkey cooking a barbecue had "Kick the Cook" on the back of its apron.
- One cartoon in either Punch or Private Eye had a Dalek with an "Exterminate me" sign hung on its back.
- Calvin and Hobbes has a strip with Moe having a sign upon his back saying "Heave a rock at me" on it. Another strip features Calvin falsely telling Moe that he has a sign on his back saying "Someone run this kid over with a truck"
- This◊ Dogs of C-Kennel strip had this happen to Tucker, with the sign reading "Neuter me".
- In God Hand, Gene starts with a "Kick Me" sign that falls off when he uses his god powers for the first time. Keeping it on for the entire game is a common Self-Imposed Challenge.
- You can sometimes find "Kick Me" signs in Bully. Sticking one on someone's back causes nearby students to kick the victim.
- Mentioned in the third Ace Attorney game, where Edgeworth wonders if there's a kick-me sign attached to the defense's bench when he takes over for Phoenix for the first part of Case 3-5.
- The Simpsons loves this trope:
- In the one parodying The Departed, Skinner has a kid befriend Bart who is really The Mole to thwart Bart's pranks. When Bart spraypaints "Kick Me" on him, Skinner reveals he already had letters on there so it now reads KICK ME'DIOCRE STUDY HABITS (with Kearney stopping himself from kicking him and picking up a textbook to read).
- The American Dragon Jake Long episode, "Family Business" had Fu Dog try to pull this trick on Marty The Grim Reaper, only for it fail and for him to notice that he had a sign on his back that read, "Kick Me Harder". Also done to The Huntsman when he was a teenager in "Hero of the Hourglass".
- In the Batman: The Animated Series episode, "The Man Who Killed Batman", the criminals hold a funeral for Batman, who is believed dead. The Joker attaches a "Kick Me" sign to Batman's empty cape and cowl before it is to be sealed in a coffin.
- In The Grim Adventures of Billy & Mandy when Grim narrates about Jack, a prankster to whom he gave eternal life, you see Jack using this prank on various people in the animated montage.
- American Dad!
- In the opening starting in the fourth season, Hayley sticks a peace sign on Stan's back, while Francine takes it off before he even notices.
- The episode "All About Steve" has one of Stan's co-workers put a "Shoot Me" sign on his back.
- Happens to Gossamer on The Looney Tunes Show.
- On the episode of Pepper Ann in which Pepper Ann and her friends start a prank war, someone stuck a sign on Pepper Ann's back that said, "Craig is superfine and super-mine!" (Craig is the eighth grader Pepper Ann has a crush on).
- Johnny Bravo fell victim to this when a pair of feuding clowns chose him as the victim in their "clown-off". The older clown used a "KICK ME" sign, while the younger, hipper clown one-upped him with a sign reading "I HATE RHINOS" (which led to a talking rhinoceros beating the crap out of Johnny). Brick Joke: Later in that episode, the guy who kicked Johnny came back and kicked him again. (Johnny still had the sign)
- In As Told by Ginger, someone puts a "Kick Me" sign on a statue.
- Former student and school legend Frank "The Dude" Dudicoff sticks a sign on Miss Finster's back that reads "Pony rides for $1.00". When he comes back as a student teacher, he does it again when no one's looking- except now it says "Point at me and whisper!"
- In the episode "Momma's Girl", TJ and the others attempt to do this to Principal Prickly with a sign that read "Call Me Daddy", as one of their attempts to help Spinelli get over her embarrassment of accidentally calling Ms. Grotke 'mama'. It fails, because when TJ does place the sign on Prickly's back, the other kids start calling him "Dubby" instead of "Daddy", due to the fact that Gus wrote the sign in cursive, but did a sloppy job at writing the word "Daddy".
- Johnny Storm pulls a version of this on Ben Grimm (aka The Thing) in an episode of Fantastic Four: World's Greatest Heroes, subverting what would have otherwise been a Heartwarming Moment where he apologized to Ben for all the crummy stuff he'd done to him in the past.
- In the Family Guy segment "Lil Griffins" Peter places a Kick Me sign on one of his classmates, much to the delight of the teacher.
- As with many ancient stereotypes, this is Truth in Television. Odds are better than good that you've done this, had it done to you, or seen it done. A milder version in France is the "April Fish" on April Fools day, which consists of sticking a paper fish (the best drawn, the better) on people's back, as a "laugh at me" sign.
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