Pitiful Worms

"Another insect, CRUSHED!!!"
Dong Zhuo, Dynasty Warriors 4

"How dare you... I now must squash you LIKE THE BUG THAT YOU ARE!"

Bugs are small. Bugs can be annoying. And bugs are easily squishable, given the right tools. So what better way is there to insult an opponent you don't want to be bothered with anymore? By comparing him/her/it to a bug (or worm, or maggot, or something else that crawls along the ground and can easily be stepped on), of course.

This is a favored technique among very powerful and/or arrogant villains to intimidate their opponent or devalue their abilities before their climactic battle. More savvy heroes tend to shrug this off as lame posturing, but a bad guy will still throw this in from time to time, if only to make himself sound cool. This can be hammy, especially if you stop to think of what that would actually look like if it were a normal human saying it to an actual bug.

Note that some Worms are less pitiful than others.

See also the Drill Sergeant Nasty, who uses this as a "motivational" tool ("You call that an insult, maggot?!"), If a character thinks of everyone this way, that's Humans Are Insects.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • Dragon Ball Z: Cementing his status as the Big Bad of the story arc, Frieza often delivers insults like this to his foes. His theme song in Kai also has lyrics to this effect, describing his subjects as worms and insects before him.
    Did you really think that three little ants could defeat a dinosaur?
  • In Hellsing, Zorin Blitz talks about swatting Pip Bernadotte "like a fly", which makes Seras angry enough to take a level in badass.
  • Jo Jos Bizarre Adventure: Dio Brando does this a lot. For example, when standing on a floating rock about to fight the man in the funny hat.
  • In Bleach, The Espada Barragan Luisenbarn is fond of this, repeatedly calling his enemies ants and insects even when he's not the one fighting them.
  • Double meaning in C'mon Digimon, where Bun is both a weak monster (bug as in small and easily squished) but is also believed to be the result of an error in the v-pet(bug as in glitch). Similarly, in Digimon V-Tamer 01, Neo Saiba does compare opponents to bugs (small, easily squished) but considers Taichi and Zeromaru to be bugs in that they aren't squished when they are supposed to be (errors in the system).
  • The double meaning continues in Our War Game, where Kuramon is compared to a bug, in that Digimon are not supposed to directly appear on the internet, and a bug in that Taichi and Yamato's monsters are criticized for not easily squashing it like they should have.
  • Children under the influence of the Dark Spore in Digimon Adventure 02 get an attitude of superiority to normal humans, and often compare anyone who's not them to "insects".
  • Father in Fullmetal Alchemist once said humans are so insect-like compared to him that they don't even deserve his contempt as his homunculus give.
  • In the Black Swordsman arc of Berserk, which begins the story In Medias Res, Griffith/Femto makes his Big Bad debut by "greeting" Guts with, "Still squirming around in your pitiful existence, I see." taking note that he is practically a god at this point and Guts is a mere mortal. Guts "calmly" reminds him that if it hadn't been for the bullshit that Guts went through for his goals, Griffith/Femto would not have been in the position that he is in now.
  • The corrupt eunuchs' in Code Geass call the people of China ants in their Motive Rant to Zero when they think they have him cornered. Too bad for them, this is all part of an Engineered Public Confession.
  • In Fairy Tail, the dark guild Eisenwald refers to the members of the titular guild as "flies". They don't really make notice of it, except for Natsu who brilliantly gives the taunting Kageyama his comeuppance by punching him and naming the attack "Fly Punch".
    • The Dreaded Black Wizard Zeref believes that the even more dreaded Black Dragon of the Apocalypse Acnologia chooses not to speak to humans (despite technically still being one himself) because he sees them are mere vermin.
  • In A Certain Magical Index, Teitoku Kakine calls Accelerator a worm at one point before trying to kill him.
  • In Mahou Sensei Negima!, Fate boasts at one point, "You are as an ant before an elephant."
  • In Fate/Zero, Gilgamesh calls one of the Assassins a worm after slicing his head open with one of his flying swords.

    Comic Books 
  • Watchmen
    Dr. Manhattan: The world's smartest man is no more a threat to me than the world's smartest termite.
  • Epic example from 52. Mr. Mind, who appears in most stories as a tiny, telepathic caterpillar who needs the help of other villains to fight his enemies, has become the Hyperfly. Now the size of a planet, he chases down Booster Gold and Rip Hunter...
    I have you now. You insects.
  • In one issue of Arkham Unhinged, Bane has broken into the church where Cash, the medical staff and political prisoners are holed up. Cash confronts, and Bane says that he is an insect to him. Cash's pure badass response
    Good! Then feel my sting! *SLASH!*
  • Due to his motif, Spider-Man's enemies often do this. Of course, if anyone is so foolish as to refer to him as an "insect", he'll be quick to remind them that he's actually an arachnid.

     Fan Fiction 
  • Villains fond of this insult in a Power Ranger universe have the chance to take it a step further.
  • Rosario Vampire: Brightest Darkness:
    • Hex, Pandora, and Babylon can barely form a sentence without derisively calling humans and monsters "lesser beings."
    • The dark Falla likes to refer to humans and other monsters as ants.
    • In Act III chapter 41, Kuyou explicitly states that, as far as he's concerned, humans are the equivalent of ants and dirt.
    • In Act V chapter 36, during the school attack, Jacqueline outright refers to the humans as "filthy bugs."
  • A Link Between Worlds: The Novelization: As in the game, Yuga is literally incapable of opening his mouth without comparing everyone around him to worms and insects.
  • In Pony POV Series, Nyarlathotrot tells the heroes that ponies are less than bacteria to him.

  • Rotti Largo from ''Repo! The Genetic Opera:
    "Maggots! Vermin! You want the world for nothing!"
  • Non-villain example from Golden Eye. Natalya tells off her former partner Boris, who has joined Trevelyan.
    Natalya: This is not one of your games, Boris! Real people will die! You pathetic little worm...
  • In Disney's Hercules, Pain and Panic, minions of Hades, use this trope on themselves, to demonstrate their unworthiness compared to their boss.
    Pain and Panic: We are worms! Worthless worms!
  • In The Rocky Horror Picture Show (also in the stage play), the reprise of "Super Heroes" includes the line:
    "And crawling / on the planet's face / some insects / called the human race..."
  • Loki in The Avengers (2012).
    Director Fury: We have no quarrel with you.
    Loki: An ant has no quarrel with a boot.
    • Later, when Loki is thrown into a cell designed to contain the Hulk, Fury informs him he can be ejected into the sky at any time if he misbehaves, then says, "Ant, meet boot."
  • Amos, the preacher from Cold Comfort Farm begins his church service this way before beginning his rant about the Fire and Brimstone Hell that awaits them all.
    "You...miserable...crawling worms are yer here again then?"

  • In Taran Wanderer, Morda attempts to Baleful Polymorph Taran into a worm, considering other animals not lowly enough. (He fails because Taran is unwittingly holding his Soul Jar.)
  • Douglas Hill's Master of Fiends has a particularly unpleasant demon call the heroes insects.
    Scythe: Some insects bite, crawler. Do you dare to risk my fangs? <brandishes Cool Sword>
  • In The Dresden Files, this is fairly stock. So much so, that if the monster of the week doesn't do this, then they're Dangerously Genre Savvy. Like Cowl. Or Kincaid. Notice, they're both probably at least a little bit human.
  • Warrior Cats gives us a hilarious example in which a young apprentice makes up a weird dream that goes something like this "I was walking through the forest and ShadowClan cats were EVERYWHERE! And the river was running with blood, THUNDERCLAN BLOOD! I went to tell somebody in the camp but there were no ThunderClan warriors anywhere and a ShadowClan cat is all like 'We can crush ThunderClan, because ThunderClan are no more powerful then a swarm of beetles, and Beetles can be crushed,".
  • In Matt Stover's novelization of Revenge of the Sith, Anakin is shown gradually having less and less regard for his wife as a person he loves and respects, more and more seeing her as a possession whose fear and pain, when he provokes them, are sweet. There's a scene where he looks at her and realizes he could crush her like a bug, and almost wants to.

    Live Action Television 
  • On Angel, Illyria, oh so much. An Old One from when demons ruled the earth, used to being worshiped by millions or billions of beings, she was not especially impressed with the twenty-first century. Insects, vermin, and muck were all ways she described humanity.
  • Star Trek: Voyager. Large Ham Dr. Chaotica in the Flash Gordon expy holodeck program "The Adventures of Captain Proton!"
    Your pitiful fleet is no match for my spaceforce! We'll crush you like insects!
    • Gary Mitchell from the TOS episode "Where No Man Has Gone Before" makes a similar threat as he's being beamed down to Delta Vega.
  • In the Doctor Who episode "The Ultimate Foe", the Valeyard hurls this sort of insult at Glitz: "Insect! Microbe!!"
  • In Babylon 5, The Vorlons and Shadows take this attitude towards the younger races, humans included. Kosh is our main window on this ("The avalanche has already started. It is too late for the pebbles to vote."), and he's actually way more engaged with us than the rest of his race.
  • In Haven, the villainous Mara is several centuries old and sees herself as superior to ordinary humans. She boasts to the heroes, "You're less than insects to me."

  • Professor Higgins in Pygmalion:
    Eliza: Nothing wrong — with you. I've won your bet for you, haven't I? That's enough for you. I don't matter, I suppose.
    Higgins: You won my bet! You! Presumptuous insect! I won it.

    Video Games 

    Western Animation