Pick on Someone Your Own Size
Sideshow Bob? (Groan) I'm only ten, and I already got two mortal enemies!A situation where an adult villain fixates on a teenager as his Arch-Enemy because of some twisted logic that only makes sense to them. It's not a smart reason, but it's there, and it's convincing. It's not because of some past personal grudge, not Because Destiny Says So, not because he wants the hero's MacGuffin, and definitely not because Luke, I Am Your Father (Fan Fiction notwithstanding). Somehow, someone half their age has really gotten under the villain's skin, so the only thing they can do is return the favor. This trope may exist to ensure that the audience takes the villain seriously, rather than laughing it off as merely two kids fighting. Prone to persuade the impressive hero "We Can Rule Together!" Expect Not So Different and If You Kill Him, You Will Be Just Like Him. Although most villains tend to focus on teen heroes of their own sex, intergender examples are more common than you might think, as many of the examples below show. A sub-trope of Driven by Envy. The Dean Bitterman or Sadist Teacher can cross into this territory if they have it in for a specific student in particular. See also: Animal Nemesis. Contrast Older Hero vs. Younger Villain, where the age relationship is reversed.
— Bart, The Simpsons
open/close all folders
Anime and Manga
- Setsuna and Ali on Gundam 00. Ali manipulated Middle Eastern children so that they would kill their parents, become children soldiers, and fight a jihad that would eventually destroy their own country, the Kurdish Republic. Setsuna was one of the children who survived. Years later, Setsuna has grown up to pilot a powerful mech, Ali has become a mercenary, and it goes without saying they're not too pleased to see each other.
- When season 2 came round Graham got into the act as well, so Setsuna now has two people "his own size" picking on him.
- Another Gundam example is Kamille and Jerid in Zeta Gundam. Camille is also the victim of a beating by a Titans MP in the first episode. Later in the episode, he steals a Humongous Mecha and comes after the MP, saying "Wanna know how it feels to be picked on by somebody bigger than you?".
- Chronocle Asher is mocked for being beaten by the 13 year old Uso Evin in Victory Gundam. This troupe also led to the suicide of a Zanscare pilot, who couldn't handle the shame of being defeated as well as the fact that a mere child had been forced to fight.
- Ramba Ral from the first series was shocked when he discovered that the White Base's crew, including Gundam pilot Amuro Ray, were so young.
- Gozaburo Kaiba molded Seto into filling the role for him in Seto Kaiba's Backstory to Yu-Gi-Oh!.
- Gauron's fixation on Sousuke in Full Metal Panic! takes this trope to irrationally extreme levels. Killing Sousuke or being killed by him — either suits him just fine.
- It should probably be mentioned that it's worse than that - it's irrational to the point where he actually wanted to kill Sousuke when he was eleven and canonically wanted to rape his dead body. C'mon, the boy is at least forty years younger than him - you'd think he'd cut Sousuke some slack. It also gets even creepier when one realizes that their countless encounters are most likely not entirely coincidence... and that Gauron is heavily implied to be stalking him, actively choosing missions / jobs that would put him in a position to see his "precious boy."
- Team Rocket has an obsession with defeating Ash and stealing his Pikachu. He's a ten year old, and they're adults.
- May was unlucky enough to anger prima donna coordinator Harley, who subsequently became fixated on humiliating her and beating her in every contest she participated in.
- Pokémon Special is logically better since it's actually Team Rocket's Leader offering Red a lieutenants position in Team Rocket since Giovanni realizes that Red kicks ass and would be a valuable asset.
- Hisoka from Hunter × Hunter towards Gon and Killua. Although he is shown trying to resist the urge to kill them, and "enjoy the fruit" when they become stronger and "ripen". And if that sounded creepily like a pedophile that's waiting for young boys to grow up, then to answer it, yes, it's supposed to.
- In D.Gray-Man, Tyki is noticeably older than Allen (who is 15), but is very obsessed with killing him. Sure, The Earl ordered him to eliminate Allen, but he is quite noticeably very eager and excited with the idea of fighting and killing him; during their fight on the Ark, he said, "This is giving me the thrills! I'll break you, one more time, with this hand!" Of course, there are probably other reasons why he's so interested in Allen...
- Very chillingly reversed in the manga Monster, where the teenage Johan becomes obsessed with the adult surgeon who saved his life.
- In Get Backers, Takuma Fudou (age 28, and called an "old man" by a lot of other characters) towards Ban Midou (age 18). Fudou became obsessed with Ban back when Ban was, at oldest, 16 years old. Initially, Fudou's obsession with Ban is simply explained by Ban to be because he's mad at Ban for ripping his arm off. Except... as the series goes on, it becomes more and more evident that Fudou's obsession stems from much more than just being pissed off about losing a limb from a fight. In fact, later on, he even manages to get a fully functioning, good as new arm from Kyouji Kagami... which Kagami even tells him is really what he wants, right? Except even after eliminating the reason he should be so obsessed with Ban, he still goes after Ban and tells him his greatest happiness and desire is to continue to fight him forever. Fudou's obsession with Ban is so irrational, he even tells Ginji that he hates him because "when you're around, Midou doesn't even notice me. Midou's eyes are not on me, because you're around!"
- In One Piece, since Luffy is just a teenager, many of his opponents are usually much older than him. There's Buggy the Clown, who in addition to despising Shanks (Luffy's friend/mentor) also hates Luffy for beating him in battle once.
- Moriaki-sensei sees Hotori as her "second natural enemy" in Soredemo Machi wa Mawatteiru
- While the adult Green Goblin originally fixated on the then-teenaged Spider-Man because he thought Spidey would be an easy target, the Goblin soon became obsessed with the idea of making the much younger Peter Parker the "heir" to his legacy as the Green Goblin, seeing in Peter Parker the traits he wanted his heir to carry on, but found lacking in his own son.
- The Time Trapper of the Legion of Super-Heroes first appeared to have no reason to menace the Legion other than a severe dislike for teenage superheroes. Later, this evolved into several elaborate retcons. These retcons include that he was fighting Mordru in a game of 4th-Dimensional chess and that he was Cosmic Boy.
- A rare example of an adult male villain and a teenage female heroine can be found in Spider-Girl, where the adult Hobgoblin that used to clash with her dad returns to torment May Parker.
- Having already become extremely wealthy with his inventions, the brilliant Wizard sought a new intellectual challenge, and decided that capturing the then-teenaged Human Torch would be a worthwhile test of his abilities. Although he initially started out just hating Johnny Storm, it didn't take long for the Wizard to develop a mad-on for the entire Fantastic Four, particularly Reed Richards.
- Inverted in the Darkhawk comics, where the teenage Chris Powell makes it his mission to make life hell for crimelord Phillip Bazin, who's harassing his district attorney mother and policeman father for investigating Bazin's illegal activities.
- While Deathstroke of the DCU is an equal opportunity criminal mercenary, he holds a personal grudge against the Teen Titans (and former Teen Titans) who are all much younger than him — especially Dick Grayson. This all started when the H.I.V.E offered him a contract to kill the Teen Titans. He dismissed the contract out of hand, and the H.I.V.E. passed the contract onto his estranged elder son, Grant. Grant, blaming the Titans for everything that had gone wrong in his life, accepted chemical enhancements that would make him equal or surpass Deathstroke. The effects of the drugs caused Grant to die, even as Deathstroke had been trying to talk him out of the job. Blaming the job, and by extent the Titans, for the loss of his son, Deathstroke swore to take up the contract Grant had died trying to fulfil.
- The premise of Avengers Arena is Arcade trying to re-establish villain cred by trapping a bunch of teenage superheroes in Murderworld and make them fight to the death.
- In another rare intergender example, the ''Quirk of Fate'' fanfiction series, a Spider-Man Alternate Universe Fic where Mary Jane Watson was bitten by the radioactive spider instead of Peter Parker, has the teenage heroine becoming first the object of lust of an adult Doctor Octopus, and then becoming his archenemy when she flatly rejects him.
- Mary Jane seems to have really bad luck with this whenever she becomes a superhero. Another series, Ultimate Spider-Woman: Change With The Light, set in a separate universe, has the Brothers Grimm develop a weird, Batman/Joker-like fixation with her as the "straight woman" in his performance art, and deliberately stages kidnappings and robberies to attract her attention and force to fight him.
- And the Brothers Grimm isn't necessarily even the only one. Jack O'Lantern, alias Steven Mark Levins, has developed a psychopathic obsession with his teenage nemesis for continually interfering in his fun and coming to represent everything he hates about the world.
Film - Animated
Film - Live-Action
- In Election, Tracy Flick (Reese Witherspoon) is a high school student who is running for school council. Her ambitious, over-achieving personalty grates on one of her teachers, Jim McAllister (Matthew Broderick), who becomes obsessed with ruining her run for election, and by extension her life.
- A female example comes from the film version of The Wizard of Oz, when the adult Wicked Witch of the West becomes obsessed with destroying the teenage Dorothy Gale, who accidentally killed her sister, the Wicked Witch of the East. Since the Witch of the West also wants the Witch of the East's ruby slippers, which just happen to be stuck to Dorothy's feet, she has double the reason to want Dorothy dead.
- In a distinctly non-humorous example, Christabella, the leader of the evil cult in Silent Hill, is revealed near the end of the movie as having had an extreme vendetta against her sister Dahlia's daughter, who was born out of wedlock. After ten years of her daughter being put through hell by the children of other cult members, Dahlia decides to allow Christabella to 'purify' her daughter. This ends exactly how you would expect.
- Taken to an extreme extent in Kung Pow! Enter the Fist, which initially features the villain against a newborn baby.
- The Hitcher:
- The original film is a textbook example of this. After young teenager Jim Halsey manages to thwart serial killer John Ryder's attempt to add him to one of his list of victims, Ryder becomes completely obsessed with stalking Halsey and killing or being killed by him. Ryder himself looks to be around 40 - 50 years old.
- The 2007 remake turns this into an intergender example by adding Jim's girlfriend Grace Andrews to the mix. Ryder eventually murders Jim and puts all his focus on Grace.
- The film I Know What You Did Last Summer features an intergender example with the crazed fisherman killer Ben Willis obsessed with killing the teenage Julie James and her friends for accidentally hitting him with their car.
- A female example occurs in the film Drop Dead Gorgeous when beauty pageant contestant Amber Atkins is targeted by her jealous rival Becky Leeman. When Becky's attempts to drive Amber out of the competition get her killed, her mother Gladys goes crazy and becomes obsessed with trying to murder the teenage Amber.
- Despite having apparently unlimited power over sleeping people, Freddy Krueger of A Nightmare on Elm Street typically only goes after teenagers.
- And even when he was human, he targeted children. As in, 10-year-olds and younger.
- Ferris Buellers Day Off: Ed Rooney's disproportionate obsession with taking down Ferris Bueller is pretty much the only thing that makes him a proper villain; if he stayed within his jurisdiction as Ferris's principal and just punished Ferris for constantly skipping school and breaking rules, you'd have to side with him.
- A female example occurs in Teaching Mrs. Tingle, with the title character having it in for teenage student Leigh Anne Watson for having many of the opportunities she never did, and trying to make Leigh Ann's life miserable as a result.
- An intergender example occurs in the Jamie Lee Curtis / Lindsay Lohan remake of Freaky Friday, where Lohan's character is being taught by an old flame of her mother. Said teacher never got over being dumped by Curtis's character, and he takes out his grudge on her daughter. Curtis's character doesn't believe her daughter's claims until their bodies are switched, and then experiences it for herself.
- Snape and Harry in the Harry Potter books, due to Harry's being the spitting image of his dead father in numerous ways, whom Snape did NOT get along with at all because they both had a crush on the same girl. In spite of this, it turns out that Snape, who has been one of the good guys after all, had been watching out for Harry and helping him all along.
- Lord Voldemort on the other hand thinks that it's Because Destiny Says So, not realizing that the prophecy that drove him to hunt down the boy was the self-fulfilling kind, and that it's precisely his obsession with it that makes him engineer himself a perfect Arch-Nemesis. His unhealthy conviction in the boy's significance and threat leads to some increasingly stupid moves, each of which makes the boy more and more dangerous, which in turn feeds the obsession, until this chain reaction explodes right in V's noseless face.
- Snape seems to have no excuse when it comes to Neville, but if you think about it, had Voldemort gone after Neville's parents that night instead, Lily would still be alive. Yes, that's messed-up logic, but Snape is a messed-up character.
- Similar with Lucius and Harry, as he does seem to pick on Harry. Like father like son, eh?
- Valkyrie Cain seems to piss off almost all the evil hit-men in Skulduggery Pleasant, such as the Vampire Dusk (who is pissed because she gave him a permanent scar across his face), the Hit-man Billy-Ray Sanguine (who is hates her because she stole his razor blade and later gave him an ability removing injury) and the attempted murderer Vaurien Scapegrace (who blames her for his arrest). Interestingly, all three men eventually lost interest in killing her for different reasons.
- An intergender example is between the adult Mr. Hagen and the teenage Jenny Jeffers in R.L. Stine's The Babysitter series of novels.
- Mrs. Dubose in To Kill a Mockingbird.
- Bob Ewell attacking Scout.
- Though he isn't expressly named a teenager (spirit of childhood and all that), but the relationship between Peter and Captain Hook in Peter Pan certainly seems to fit a few of the criteria for this trope.
- Heathcliff in Wuthering Heights focuses his revenge on the children of his rivals once the latter are dead.
- Miss Havisham in Great Expectations uses Pip as a proxy for the man who left her at the altar. Only at the point of death does she realize just how unfair she has been to both Pip and Estella. Not only age and gender but also social class factor into the power disparity: Havisham is a very wealthy dowager; Pip an orphan apprenticed to a blacksmith.
- All the adults and Sara in A Little Princess.
Live Action TV
- A rare adult female to male youth example comes on Married... with Children, of all places, where a bitter middle-aged librarian becomes the enemy of a young Al Bundy. Thirty years later, when Al returns to the library to return an overdue book, the now elderly librarian is still there and ready to renew the enmity with the now middle-aged Al.
- Female example: Corrupt Corporate Executive Danielle Atron becomes obsessed with locating the teenage Alex Mack and exploiting her mutation for scientific purposes on The Secret World of Alex Mack.
- There are multiple female and intergender examples on Buffy the Vampire Slayer, one of the most memorable being Principal Snyder who openly admitted to getting a "warm, tingly feeling" from making life hell for Buffy.
- In Japanese drama Shōkōjo Seira, based on the book A Little Princess, Sadist Teacher Mimura Chieko practically takes delight in bullying Seira, screaming and slapping Seira when she does something that she doesn't like. She even admitted right to Seira's face that she despised her. However, we can see where this irrational hate of Seira comes from. Chieko was once classmates of Seira's late mother and had an inferior complex about her. Seira's mother was well-loved, kind, pretty and popular and it really didn't help that Seira was very much like her mother in every way.
- Thirty Rock has a an intergender example where the older one is a main character: Jack regards his boss' teenage grandaughter Kylie Hooper as the main obstacle to him becoming CEO of Kabletown, and when asked about their relationship simply identifies himself as her nemesis. She shares his attitude.
- In Raising Hope Jimmy's young daughter Hope and his great-grandmother "Ma-Maw" frequently fight over the last piece of taffy. Jimmy's father Burt says that he wants to have a baby rival when he's Ma-Maw's age.
- In Quantum Leap, one rather unbalanced woman named Leda Ader made life hell for a little girl named Abigail Fuller because she believed that Abby was involved in her own daughter's disappearance. She wasn't. Leda was so persistent in her efforts to destroy Abby that Sam had to Leap into her life three times in a row to save her. In the end, Leda snuck into Abby's house and slit her own throat with Abby's kitchen knife to frame her for murder. Sam as Abby's attorney proved her innocence, ending the threat Leda posed to Abby for good.
- Kingdom Hearts II:, Axel is initially a bit too keen on becoming best friends forever with Roxas (who is only 15- or rather, his soul is 15, Roxas himself is only less than a year old). After Roxas left, Axel goes into this trope full throttle, resulting in an amazing amount of Foe Yay between them, and many many scenes where it looks like Axel is unhealthily obsessed with defeating and taking Roxas back.
- Author's Saving Throw in Kingdom Hearts: 358/2 Days: The relation between Axel and Roxas (and Xion) is shown to be more of a Big Brother Instinct of Axel's towards his younger cohorts, who are both only a few days old at the beginning of the game. By the end of the game however, Axel's role as the "big brother" of the gang starts to get rather murky ...
- Metal Gear: although Solid Snake isn't a teenager (he was in his thirties), Revolver Ocelot is a lot older than him, and is really really obsessed with fighting and defeating him. Some of that obsession might be due to the obsession he had with Big Boss, but that was understandable because everyone wants Big Boss.
- Disgaea: Hour of Darkness: Vyers (also known as Mid Boss) constantly challenges Laharl to fights, and sees him as a rival (though Laharl hardly thinks of him as such). This is because he was testing Laharl, trying to get him to become a strong and caring overlord because Laharl was still quite young.
- In Xenosaga, this is what the relationship between Albedo and Junior looks like. Of course, it turns out that Junior is actually the same age as him.
- When Hinoken/Mr. Match is defeated by Lan/Netto in the Mega Man Battle Network series, he becomes determined to beat the kid in a rematch and becomes a recurring foe throughout both the anime series and the games they're based on.
- Rather averted when he only upholds this until the third game from which he turns from a villain to a hero. He even becomes a teacher in BN 6 and allowing Heatman to become Netto's cross Navi. Given the choice as well, you can even operate him to rescue Rockman.
- Present in some form or another in pretty much every Final Fantasy title. To demonstrate, the Massive Multiplayer Crossover Dissidia: Final Fantasy, starring the main hero and villain from the first 10 titles: The oldest hero with a known age is 21. The youngest villain with a known age is 24.
- Happens twice in the Jak and Daxter series:
- Said word-for-word by the villain to Daxter in Daxter, while the villain is transforming into a monster twice his original size. Daxter's response is a nervous chuckle and the comment, "Yes, well... technically, you are actually a lot bigger."
- In Jak X Combat Racing 31-year-old Razer has it in for 19-year-old Jak. Jak literally tells him to pick on someone his own size.
- The DC Universe Online trailer has Black Adam shouting this to Green Lantern. The person Lantern was fighting? Giganta.
- The hero in AdventureQuest Worlds says this to Andre, a giant farmer who was trying to grow enough food for his family, after breaking his necklace and snatching the key from it because he/she thought he was going to have the villagers for dinner. Andre, of course, responds with "Pick on someb- THIS IS INSANE!"
- This line is sometimes said by some of the battery bots in Ratchet & Clank Future: A Crack In Time, whenever they get picked up.
- Present in The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker, where adult Ganon takes on child Link years after he was defeated by the Hero of Time in Ocarina Of Time.
- One of the stranger examples comes from Sonichu, where the evil Mary Lee Walsh is obsessed with ruining the "Love Quests" of Christian Weston Chandler, to the extent of sending evil super-powered monsters and brainwashed mind slaves after him. Her motivation for doing this is because...because...uh...For the Evulz...?
- South Park:
- Rather than an adult opposing a teenager, we instead get a little kid opposing a teenager. It's also inverted, in that Kid Hero Cartman is the one who's determined to get even with the teenage villain Scott Tenorman.
- This is inverted again when at the end of the episode everyone realizes that Cartman, embodying the Not-So-Harmless Villain trope, is not a Jerkass with occasional cruel moments like everyone thought, but rather a complete psychopath.
- Slade and Robin on Teen Titans; paralleled by Brother Blood and Cyborg, which Robin points out. Blood/Cyborg had a bit of irony in that Cyborg was one of the larger characters in the series while Blood was rather wiry.
- Plasmius and Danny on Danny Phantom— Apart from being Jack and Maddie Fenton's son, Danny was the only human apart from Vlad with ghost powers, which was reason enough to attract Vlad's attention.
- Zhao and Prince Zuko on Avatar The Last Airbender. What, does Jason Isaacs just hate kids with scars?
- Present but with a twist with Dr. Drakken and Kim Possible. The gender relationship is quite uncommon, and Drakken discovered much later that she's the daughter of the former best friend who was the main cause of his descent into villainy. This doesn't come to light until Kim's self-starting heroism has made her his Arch-Enemy on her own merits.
- Sideshow Bob and Bart in The Simpsons, quite literally.
- On a lesser scale, Principal Skinner is another of Bart's enemies, with their rivalry being compared by Lisa to the enmity between Sherlock Holmes and Professor Moriarty, or between Mountain Dew and Mello Yellow.
- An episode has Lisa being antagonized by a substitute teacher (Amy Poehler) because she thinks Lisa is one of the "popular girls" that pick on bookworms like her (not knowing Lisa is one herself). After hearing that, Lisa forgets her problems because now she knows that someone actually thinks she's popular.
- Female example: Vexus' obsession with Jenny on My Life as a Teenage Robot.
- An intergender example occurs in the Phantom 2040 cartoon with the heroic young Kit Walker Jr., son of the previous Phantom, and the villainous adult Rebecca Madison, widow of the man who killed Kit's father. To be fair, Kit does pose her a serious threat once he becomes the Phantom himself.
- Zim to Dib in Invader Zim qualifies, although not in the literal sense — they are the same size. Even by Irken standards Zim isn't a child, though you could make the case he should be considered one mentally, and while it was Dib who actually kicked off their conflict it has become apparent that Zim's fixation goes beyond merely considering him a threat. Without that conflict, he loses all motivation.
- Vicky to Timmy (or children in general) in The Fairly Oddparents, and Mr. Crocker towards any child.
- Van Kless towards the titular Generator Rex.
- Ben10: Vilgax initially had a very logical reason to go after Ben - he wanted the Omnitrix from him for his own purpose, and couldn't care less about what happened to Ben once he would have it. However, after accumulating several failures against him, he ends up hating Ben and wanting to kill him as much as to get the Omnitrix.
- In the Looney Tunes cartoon "Rabbit Punch", the Champ is seen beating senseless a thin, wiry challenger with no effort. Bugs Bunny heckles the Champ by saying this very line, after which the Champ appears beside the rabbit, who gives him a big Oh Crap Smile:
Champ: (grabbing Bugs by his ears) Like YOU?!
Bugs: (suddenly nervous) Eh... what's up, Doc?
(the Champ throws Bugs into the ring, now with boxing gloves on his hands)
Bugs: Me and my big mouth.
- Gravity Falls: Grunkle Stan (an old man) and Gideon Gleeful (a nine-year-old boy) have been enemies for years, apparently.