Unacceptable Targets

"Some of the papers ran slanderous stories saying the nuns cohabited with the marchers, and I made a bad joke about how I'd come down to get a little of that action, and Harry Belafonte grabbed me by the throat. He was not amused."
Alan King on why you should rethink inviting a stand-up comic to your civil rights march.

This is Unacceptable Targets; the flip side of Acceptable Targets, things that simply are not done. Doing so may result in anything from "Dude, Not Funny" to the entire audience staring at you in shocked silence for a split second before breaking out the Torches and Pitchforks. Comedians and critics that gladly cross all the lines will still stop at this one, no matter how bold they are. In short, some things are just unacceptable.

A Black Comedy will demonstrate its meanness (depending on the writers behind it) by mocking these mercilessly; this can cause the cancellation of particular episodes considered too offensive or tasteless. If Unacceptable Targets is somehow made funny, it almost always belongs to the Crosses the Line Twice category. Not to say that there is no such thing as Affectionate Parody. Humor can be constructed in a way that reveres and respects its targets or makes them appear all the more awesome. Still, comedy is a difficult business and sometimes even jokes meant to be respectful can be misinterpreted. As a result, it can sometimes be better to simply not try.

It should be noted that for some (but not all) Unacceptable Targets, it's sometimes considered okay to use them as a vehicle for a joke, as long as the joke is not at their expense. Even so, a comedian will get attacked if the joke is perceived as too mean. (For example, a joke about how Warner Bros. mistreats Watchmen {below} is okay; a joke about the comic itself is not.)

Sacred Cow is a Sub-Trope to this. Contrast with Acceptable Targets. Compare with Even Evil Has Standards, Jesus Was Way Cool, 100% Adoration Rating, The Complainer Is Always Wrong, and Too Soon. Some situations can result in heavy Unfortunate Implications, Double Standards, Positive Discrimination, and Values Dissonance in which The Rival or the counterpart of the Unacceptable Target can become an Acceptable Target.

Can sometimes be difficult to separate from Once Acceptable Targets in cases where the subjects in question were mocked at one time by one people in the dark annals of history. Perhaps a good rule of thumb to distinguish between the two is "Oh, you're mocking the Once Acceptable Target? How behind-the-times you are. I will laugh derisively at you." vs. "You're mocking the Unacceptable Target? YOU MONSTER!!!"

Examples:

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    People 
The deceased in general

See Also: Never Speak Ill of the Dead

It is typically not a good idea to rejoice at a person's death or make fun of a deceased person. This is more so if the person died tragically and/or recently. Even if they were formerly an Acceptable Target, it's best not to say "They deserved it!" or such. While there may be some exceptions, such as those who died via the death penalty, Suicide by Cop, by sheer stupidity (see the Darwin Awards, most of the victims on One Thousand Ways To Die, etc.), other similar causes, and Adolf Hitler.

Web Original
  • In NetHack, Izchak, the keeper of the lighting shop in Minetown, is never killed, even by the most hardcore mass-genocidal players. He's named after a member of the devteam who died of cancer, and killing him is considered to be very bad form.
  • Averted in YouTube Poop as Billy Mays is one of the most popular sources, perhaps because many poops are made in his honor and a number of poopers stopped creating Billy Mays YTPs after he died.
  • Also averted with Ghost's granny in True Capitalist Radio, who's as much of a chew toy as her grandson. The fact that she's dead is all the more reason for Trolls to make fun of her as a means of triggering one of Ghost's many Berserk Buttons.
  • Averted by the editorial comics on The Onion website. Recently deceased celebrities including George Carlin, James Brown, and even Luciano Pavarotti are depicted in the editorial comic as burning in Hell. Given Carlin's willingness to cross all kinds of lines in his own work, he might have even laughed at that.
    • Considering that the comics are actually a Stealth Parody of right-wing political cartoonists, it can be argued that they are targeting and mocking Carlin and Brown's socially conservative critics rather than the celebrities themselves.
  • One of Cracked's reasons no one laughed at your joke is "It Was About Something They Won't Laugh About, Ever". Examples include "the death of a child, or genocide".

Live-Action TV
  • In the infamous "Eulogy Song" from The Chaser's War on Everything, Andrew is cut off by the rest of the team before he can start a verse about Belinda Emmett, an Australian actress who died of breast cancer and had never done anything to warrant anger or ire.
    • The show survived even after the hosts infamously infiltrated an APEC conference. It did not survive the backlash of mocking the Make A Wish Foundation.

Professional Wrestling
  • Owen Hart and Eddie Guerrero are both beloved by WWE fans; if anything relating to them is brought up, the fans will cheer. Even more so with Owen, as WWE exploited Eddie in the months after his death but Owen was left alone for the most part.
  • Subverted by Chris Benoit. As the above example states, wrestlers like Owen Hart, and Eddie Guerrero are looked upon as Unacceptable Targets, but due to the nature of Chris Benoit's transgressions immediately before his passing, it is a very rare example in the Pro Wrestling community to pretty much declare him fair game for all manner of off-color jokes, downright insults, open mocking, and a hearty handful of "See you in Hell's." If wrestlers like the late Eddie Guerrero are considered the holy angel of all that is untouchable, Chris Benoit is often looked as the exact opposite; The demonic anti-Christ with an "open season" sign around the gravestone. All the more surprising and ironic, today, when considering in life, they were incredibly close friends. Even more ironic when you remember that Guerrero's character spent quite a bit of time as a heel while Benoit was almost never a heel, and also that the real-life Guerrero struggled with drug addiction while the real-life Benoit mostly stayed clean. The difference being that Eddie's death was the cumulative result of years of addiction and not double-murder-suicide. Of course, the WWE's understandable, if ham-fisted, attempts to pretend Benoit never existed may have made references to him that much more tempting to those chanters in the audience who want to mess up a show.
    • There's an Irish wrestler called B-Cool who has done a spot in matches where he will suddenly scream "oh my God, it's Chris Benoit!" and start singing Benoit's music before climbing to the top rope and delivering a diving headbutt. Did we mention this is done at family shows?

Magazines
  • Private Eye magazine has repeatedly displayed a rather stunning aversion to this trope, mocking Michael Jackson as a "mad paedophile" in the issue following his death, taking the mickey out of Diana, mocking members of that bobsleigh team that were killed at the Olympics, and satirizing the 9/11 attacks. Sometimes this is awesome, such as an early classic marking the death of apartheid South Africa's prime minister in September 1966. "Verwoerd: A nation mourns" showed a picture of Zulu tribesmen dancing. Sometimes it is less so, and their particularly tasteless ones usually elicit a flood of complaints in the letters section (the magazine crowed a little about their response to 9/11, for instance... but in the 2001 Private Eye annual, their take on the World Trade Center is conspicuously absent). A particularly interesting example was their Diana cover; it received huge criticism, but it wasn't about the princess at all but about the reaction to her death. Hislop would later say that the magazine had said "This is an odd cultural phenomenon, let's talk about it" and the public replied "We don't want to talk about it, we want to throw flowers and buy Candle in the Wind".

Real Life
  • If the individual in question was well-known enough and was generally respected, mocking any assassinated leader or murdered celebrity is considered very tasteless. Examples: Abraham Lincoln, John F. Kennedy, Robert Kennedy, Martin Luther King Jr., Mohandas Gandhi, Anwar Sadat, John Lennon, Itzhak Rabin. (Oh, and Princess Diana...although she wasn't exactly assassinated.) That said, it's generally acceptable to mock some of the circumstances around how they died — for example, Lincoln saying "Ugh, somebody shoot me" in regard to how boring the play was will get laughs.
    • This depends a lot on a person’s political affiliation. While many of these are despised by people with, um, troublesome views, Rabin is often criticised on both ends of the political spectrum in Israel: right-wingers think the Oslo treaties were a horrible idea because Arafat and/or the Palestinians in general were not a trustworthy partner and leftists criticise him for everything he did before he started the talks and for being an untrustworthy partner himself, and criticism of his policies is becoming gradually (though very slowly) more prevalent.
  • When Richard Nixon died, it temporarily became acceptable only to remember positive aspects of his presidency such as opening relations with Red China. This lasted until some previously unreleased Watergate tapes were discovered, which revealed him to be an even bigger racist Jerk Ass than he had been presented as during the investigation - as well as a hypocrite who said he'd tolerate abortion in the case of mixed-race babies being born.
  • Despite being basically a walking punchline before his death, for about six months after Michael Jackson died it was considered extremely poor taste to bring up his bizarre appearance or pedophilia charges (most people instead choosing to focus on his 1980s and early '90s stardom, and/or considering the complex circumstances of the pedophilia allegations/charges more objectively than the media had reported them at the time), to the point that some videos poking fun at Michael got a ton of hate mail, despite those videos being made before he died, with little to no objections at the time. This has died down a bit, but even today people tend to walk on eggshells when making Michael Jackson jokes, for fear of reprisal from rabid fans.
  • Subverted in the case of Jimmy Savile in England. When he died, he was much respected — particularly for his charity work — until allegations of child molestation and rape emerged about a year later. With possibly hundreds of victims to his name, he's become the best-known real life example of a Depraved Kids' Show Host; much of Top of the Pops' run and all of the shows he hosted solo have been rendered unairable.
    • Played straight as well, sort of: During his life there were loads of jokes about him being vaguely creepy. You can't make jokes along those lines now, not out of respect to the dead, but because it would be shockingly tactless to his victims.
  • Anytime the Westboro Baptist Church pickets a funeral, the subjects of their protest become this.
  • If you live in Brazil, never mock Ayrton Senna or you will be seen as a monster.
  • Once Margaret Thatcher died, plenty of people who felt screwed over by her government started rejoicing, and the press reacted in disgust. (The latter article even compares this attitude to their obituary of much more controversial Hugo Chavez: "To the millions who revered him – a third of the country, according to some polls – a messiah has fallen, and their grief will be visceral. To the millions who detested him as a thug and charlatan, it will be occasion to bid, vocally or discreetly, good riddance.")

Survivors of a tragedy

See Also: Shell-Shocked Senior

While they didn't exactly die, the above also applies to survivors of a horrific tragedy, perhaps even moreso as they're alive to at least do something about the mockery. Considering that they saw many lives die first-hand (including perhaps their friends and family), they won't take it lightly to say the least.

Real Life
  • Such examples include totalitarian dictators with cults of personality and enduring popularity (chiefly Josef Stalin and Mao Zedong), the victims of said popular dictators (including the Holocaust), USA's 'Virginia Tech' shootings, the USA's various other school and university massacres, and the 11/9/2001 terrorist attack on the USA.
    • Taken Up to Eleven in Germany and Austria since the 1980s by making this the law; the Nazi party is banned, the No Swastikas rule is law, and Holocaust denial is illegal.
  • Pretty much any war veteran.
    • When comedian Johnny Walker found out that a fellow comedian had lied about serving in Vietnam, he turned the man into an Acceptable Target in his own routines for the remainder of their two weeks playing comedy clubs (as part of a group). You do not tell Vietnam jokes and pretend you were there. You just don't.
  • This can also include people who suffered through a natural disaster, such as Hurricanes Katrina and Sandy, the Haiti earthquake, and the Japan earthquake/tsunami.
  • For more than four hundred years, a lot of Don Quixote fans had hated Alfonso Fernández de Avellaneda, a writer who published a Continuation Fic to the First part of Don Quixote. In the prologue, Avellaneda described Cervantes as a man without friends, and then he wrote: He has more tongue that hands. Cervantes was a Shell-Shocked Senior of the Battle of Lepanto, where he was wounded in his left arm. Cervantes is also known as The Cripple of Lepanto.
  • After the Boston Marathon Bombings of 2013, the city of Boston adopted the slogan "Boston Strong" to demonstrate the city's resolve in the face of adversity, especially those who had either died (including an 8 year old boy) or survived it with horrible injuries. So on two occasions when fans of rival sports teams created banners and shirts reading "Toronto Stronger" and "Chicago Stronger", Bostonians were not amused.

People who have gone into space

Space travel is dangerous, and the requirements to make a career out of going up into space are astronomical. You have to be in peak physical condition, possess high intellect, endure months of specialized training, and the potential for disasters during any launch, mission, etc. can strike in the blink of an eye. The sacrifices throughout the years of astronauts, regardless of their nationality is nothing to take lightly. Much like the aforementioned case with the shell-shocked seniors, modern astronauts are around to provide a counterpoint to the mockery, and in some cases will not deal with it for very long.

Tabletop Games
  • In Mage: The Ascension, the Void Engineers, the astronauts and astronomers of the enemy Technocracy faction, are shown as the least evil and most heroic part of the Technocracy. Source material describes failures faced by real-world space programs as attempts by the rest of the Technocracy to punish them for sharing rocket technology with mundanes.

Web Comics
  • Used in-universe in Dr McNinja, with "Nasaghasts" that ruthlessly hunt down and destroy anyone who threatens or tries to harm an astronaut. Doesn't matter why you do it; if you do something mean to an astronaut, you're going down.

Web Original
  • The Onion's "Congress Forgets How To Pass A Law" video combines this with the above: the one law that even an infamously-divided modern Congress can agree to pass is one authorizing the creation of a memorial statue to the Challenger astronauts. Unfortunately, the title scenario arises...

Real Life
  • Moon landing conspiracy theorists have fallen to the bottom of the conspiracy theory hierarchy in recent years, making the holdouts appear even more detached than the norm. One such theorist, Bart Sibrel, approached Buzz Aldrin and broached the subject. Buzz... respectfully disagreed with his opinion. We mean he punched the conspirator in the face. Mr. Sibrel tried to press charges and the judge dismissed the case after seeing the video, ruling it was self defense, and taking into account that Sibrel wasn't actually injured (just bruised and publically humiliated).

Military Servicemen and Servicewomen

Watch what you say about the military, especially around loved ones of soldiers and Marines who've died while serving. This is also a specific version of the deceased in general and survivors of a tragedy, considering that it is very likely that they will see people die first hand, not to mention they may even get severely injured or even lose their lives serving. Note that this one is Newer Than They Think: as recently as the Vietnam War it was considered acceptable in some anti-war circles to heap abuse on returning veterans.

Real Life
  • See Cervantes' case at Survivors of a tragedy
  • See the Westboro Baptist Church example above. Most of their funeral protests are for servicemembers killed in action.
  • With a male-exclusive conscription system in Singapore, one girl was under a cyber attack after mocking the death of a serviceman. She took back her words soon, though.

Humanitarian activists, professions and/or anyone who puts their life in jeopardy to help others

Keep in Mind, it takes guts for someone to put themselves at risk, and even a foolish one deserves some respect if the goal is to protect someone else. The same goes for humanitarian organizations like Amnesty International, the Red Cross, Unicef, Greenpeace, the World Wildlife Fund, Human Rights Watch, ... as well as internationally respected humanitarian activists like Mahatma Gandhi, Nelson Mandela, Cesar Chavez, Oskar Schindler, Bob Geldof, Martin Luther King, Rosa Parks, Mother Teresa, Albert Schweitzer, Desmond Tutu, Mikhail Gorbachev, the 14th Dalai Lama,... Cynical people tend to dismiss their actions as square or they only do it to get attention, but the truth of the matter is that they at least try to do something right, spend a lot of time and energy doing so and lead far more admirable lives than most of us.

Real Life
  • There's something astonishing about the fact that Nelson Mandela has dedicated most of his adult life to get South Africa rid of a racist and unfair political system, spent 27 years of his life in jail for his ideals and was already more than 70 years old when he was finally released. He accomplished his goal, even became the first black president of South Africa but didn't use his power for revenge. Instead he forgave all the people who originally looked down upon him and built a new nation where everyone of any race, gender or sexuality can live together.
  • A particularly moving example is Maximilian Kolbe, a Polish priest who was sent to Auschwitz. While he was there, three prisoners escaped and so the SS enforced its standing policy of starving ten prisoners to death for each escapee. One of the thirty chosen begged to spared because of his wife and children, so Kolbe stepped forward and offered to go in his place. The SS troopers agreed. After two weeks he was the only left, albeit barely, and the SS finished him off with a lethal injection to free up the cell. The man whose life was spared not only survived the war but lived well into his nineties, forever grateful for Kolbe's noble deed.
    • Not only did the man live to a ripe old age (Please note that Kolbe's sacrifice happened in August, 1941, which meant that he bought the man not just 50 or so years of life, but the honor of becoming one of the few non-Germans who could say he survived the entire war while working in Auschwitz), but he lived to be present at Kolbe's canonization as a Catholic saint in 1982.
  • Firefighters have to risk their lives to put out a fire, especially if someone is trapped inside.
    • In the case of Chernobyl, many firefighters treated the fire of the nuclear power plant as a normal fire until they noticed they were getting sick because they weren’t informed it was Reactor Number 4. You can guess what happened next.
  • While many often criticize them for brutality in some cases, trustworthy police officers put their lives on the line and are often armed for a reason.
  • EMTs and paramedics fall under similar protections, and in some cases criminals who thought they were targeting police officers were horrified to discover they had accidentally attacked the EMTs who were there to help them. In some particularly rough areas they wear bulletproof vests with EMS clearly stamped on the front to avoid this sort of thing.
  • We have an entire page about this: Acts of Kindness.

Administrators and Moderators of a Community

On many websites and message boards, the admins, moderators, and any of their friends are very Unacceptable Targets. For reasons that should be obvious. This really depends on the admins or mods in question, but should be assumed true until shown otherwise.

Other
  • Averted on the large Something Awful forums; the mods are just as likely to be made fun of as anyone else is. Part of the mod selection process involves seeing how well the prospective mod takes being ridiculed.
  • Star Destroyer Dot Net makes a specific distinction in the rules between insulting a moderator in a debate (acceptable, the debates are vicious) and insulting a moderator in his official capacity as moderator (unacceptable).
  • On the Nuzlocke Comics Forum, so long as you don't openly attack the mods, you can passive-aggressively disagree with them as much as you like (in fact, mods trying to fight back against such actions will find themselves being smacked down by other mods). Saying something bad about Nuzlocke however is heresy, and even the people that normally butt heads with the mods will chase you out with torches and pitchforks.
  • Strongly averted on Miiverse due to common instances of things being deleted that don't actually violate the code of conduct, which can stack up to a temporary or permanent ban—and if this is done by multiple I Ds on the same console, often made to circumvent such bans, it can PERMANENTLY ban the console from ANYTHING that requires the Nintendo Network, including the e-Shop. Rubbing salt in the wound, the only way to contest false positives is a preset "I did not violate the Code of Conduct." You can't explain why it's wrong. That said, trashing the admins isn't itself a violation...

Mister Rogers

Perhaps because of his inspiration to many people across the internet when they were kids, Fred "Mister" Rogers is given this treatment across the internet. Try to make fun of this man and the hive mind will eat you alive.

Advertising
  • In the late 1980s when Burger King made an ad with a fake Rogers explaining why BK burgers were better than McDonald's burgers, the real Rogers said "You will stop that immediately!"...and they did. This was mainly because the fake Rogers looked too much like the real him, and he did not want kids to get confused. By comparison, obviously no kid is going to confuse Eddie Murphy (see below) for Rogers, and Murphy's sketch was broadcast safely out of the way of any typical child's viewing time.

Newspaper Comics:

Live-Action TV
  • A rare aversion: Rogers liked Eddie Murphy's parody of his own show ("Mr. Robinson's Neighborhood") since it was an Affectionate Parody, not deliberate and malicious mockery. Apparently, Murphy caught up with Rogers and told him "You understand, we only do it because we love you."

Music

Web Comics

Web Original
  • His Epic Rap Battle with Mr. T is another aversion, despite him swearing and threatening to kill Mr. T at the end. Nevertheless it is one of the more restrained battles the show produced. The comments on the video pretty much unanimously declare him the winner.

Western Animation

Real Life
  • Fox & Friends cite a university study regarding Rogers and, essentially, say he ruined the children watching by giving them a sense of entitlement. All you need do is read the comments on the video for just how much hatred viewers had for the hosts by the end of it.
  • There is a popular myth that when Rogers' car was stolen it was reported on the news the same day, and the next day the car was back with a note of apology and a fresh coat of wax.
  • One of the reasons Westboro Baptist Church is so hated is because they're willing to attack Rogers.

TV Tropes Wiki
  • In fact, one of the working titles for this trope was "The Mr. Rogers".

Lèse majesté

In many countries that have royalty, insulting the king, queen, or their family is forbidden by law. In some of these, most people won't actually care much, and you'll get you a fine at most if the authorities notice — but in other countries, such as Morocco and Thailand, doing so will also get the population upset with you, and can end you up in prison for several years. Rarely seen in English-language media because in the UK lèse majesté rivals Footy and Cricket as the national sport. And of course, insulting another nation's royalty is usually fair game (at least when you're not in front of their subjects).

Web Original
  • Averted on a live episode of What the Fuck Is Wrong with You?. When Nash discovered that it was illegal to insult the king of Thailand, he proceeded to say "Fuck the king of Thailand!" multiple times. This led to Tara jokingly denying being associated with him in the video, due to not wanting to be arrested by the king of Thailand (despite living in New York).

Dictators

Like the above, in many countries and empires that are ruled by a dictator or emperor, saying anything bad about the leader or their family is a huge crime and doing so will definitely lead to very serious repercussions. In Imperial China for instance, even saying the Emperor's real name was a capital crime. Then again, if you're not actually in a dictatorship you're probably safe badmouthing it.

Mustafa Kemal Ataturk

In Turkey, it is illegal to insult the name of Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, who is considered to be the greatest hero of the Turkish people. In other words, this trope is backed by law.

Muhammad

Culturally, attacking Muhammad is one of the big no-nos in Islam, like the case with Ataturk in Turkey. Even displaying an image of him is pretty taboo note , since it also runs into the general creed on not depicting people or even animals in some parts of Muslim faith. Notably, however, this doesn't extend to most of the Western world, which has precipitated a load of conflicts recently and usually ends up with the artist in question being threatened with a fatwa proclaiming their deathnote .

Caricatures

Film
  • The irredeemable-even-without-the-offensive-aspects film Innocence of Muslims is basically one long attack on the entire religion of Islam with every last one of the Unfortunate Implications that would imply. One scene in particular, however, gained some Internet notoriety for depicting an unflattering caricature of Muhammad -not only was it responsible for a long string of protests throughout the Middle East, it was also initially blamed for the attacks on the American embassy in Benghazi (although later revelations showed this to be untrue).

Web Original
  • On a list in which people could vote for the greatest people of all time Prophet Muhammad ended up taking the #1 spot. By comparison, Jesus Christ is on the #5 spot and Mustafal Kemal Ataturk is only on #20.

Western Animation
  • South Park has lampooned pretty much everyone and everything on the planet, at one point or another, including the show and the creators themselves. However they ran into issues when it came to lampooning Muhammad. Parker and Stone went for lampooning the fact that he's not an acceptable target, instead (particularly because five years before the Muhammad taboo was back in the limelight, he had been depicted with no repercussion!). Of course, the second half of their 200th episode two-parter had all mention of Muhammad's name censored by the network, along with the speeches at the end (which didn't even mention Muhammad). Comedy Central went so far as pulling it from ever airing again — they won't even let it be streamed on the show's official website. You can find it here, but its being a TV rip means the bleeps are still in place.

Jesus

Directly attacking or insulting Jesus Christ is considered one of the big no-nos of Christianity. That doesn't mean people refrain from doing it, and it doesn't mean there isn't an entire religion that inverts Christianity out there (there is), but it does mean that doing so is something that will also precipitate a load of conflicts in any society with a large Christian population, especially if said Christians are of The Fundamentalist persuasion or are or are influenced by Moral Guardians.

This is a large reason why Crystal Dragon Jesus and especially Jesus Was Way Cool exist: the former sidesteps (sometimes quite well, other times so sloppily as to create Unfortunate Implications) the idea of a direct attack on Jesus by creating a Jesus expy to be attacked. The latter exists as an attempt to separate Jesus from either the perceived view of Christianity and/or from religion itself.

Bill Nye the Science Guy

Like Mister Rogers, he has inspired many to love science and critical thinking. Go on, try to call him a fraud for debunking conspiracy theories on YouTube.

The Emperor and the Imperial Family of Japan

See Also: He Who Must Not Be Seen

The Japanese Imperial Family deserves a special mention here, compared with the Lèse majesté crimes mentioned above. Japanese media (and the Japanese themselves) don't have any qualms about making fun or name-dropping any historical figure, including Prime Ministers, for the sake of it. On the other hand the Emperor and his family (and even fictional versions of him and his position) are off-limits in any way. Mentioning him in non-historical, non-educative and non-informative backgrounds is considered one of the biggest taboos in Japan, not to mention even making fun of him.

This is the reason why in many historical Japanese media he's excluded from being mentioned, even when he should be historically relevant for the plot. Normally he's replaced by another authority figure instead, like a Prime Minister or, when dealing with the Sengoku Era, with any daimyo or shogun.

Anime and Manga
  • This is pretty egregious in Rurouni Kenshin, since, despise the whole setting of the story is due thanks to an Emperor (the Meiji one, especially) and Kenshin was fighting (technically) for his sake, he's never mentioned anywhere, while the Tokugawas, the ones whose Kenshin was fighting against them when he was the Battousai, are mentioned instead.

Western Animation
  • This is the reason why the episode "Thirty Minutes Over Tokyo" from The Simpsons was banned in Japan, as the Emperor not only appears in the episode, but is mocked.

Children in General:

When it comes to age groups, even if the adultism is present, attacks on children are often frowned upon since the capability of defending upset children (or the children defending themselves) is very limited, although it’s a mixed bag when it comes to teenagers.

TV and Film

Real Life
  • Those serving time in prison for crimes against children are often targeted for attacks by other inmates, especially if it’s sexual and/or homicidal. In women's prisons in particular mothers who are there for abusing or harming their own children are consistently at the bottom of the prison pecking order.
  • Children dying and/or have died of a terminal illness and/or disaster are also left alone because of what their families are going through. Children who survived could be suffering from Post-Trauma Stress; so further harm to them is uncalled for. Just ask the Westboro Baptist Church about their funeral protest following the Sandy Hook shooting, where 26 people (eight male, 18 female) died...and six of the female victims were teachers.
  • If you’re going to bully a kid to the point the unthinkable happens, learn from what happened in Florida, even if the charges are reduced or dropped altogether. One does have to give the sheriff acknowledgment, though — he knew when the lines have been crossed, even if it means exposing the identities of those responsible despite being juveniles.
  • This trope isn't universal anywhere and some cultures have no problems about hurting or killing a child. This is justified in many mindsets, especially in ancient ones, when showing mercy towards a child could really backfire against the opponent, especially if the kid turns out to be a Child Soldier, mole, spy, or anything else. The best example of this is the life of Miyamoto Musashi, who was a swordsman since he was a child and was forced to kill many kinds of opponents, including kids. Taking into account the era when he lived, this is justified.
  • You've probably heard "they're just a kid!" as a common reason to dissuade people to sending child celebrities hate.
The Elderly

They've lived a long life and likely had moments where it matters the most. They might have been in the military, so the elderly must be treated with care. Sadly, like child abuse, the abuse of the elderly also exists and someone who knows the elderly will usually take action.

Of course, targeting the elderly could backfire on you — just remember that if you abuse an old man and he does a number on your ass, or abuse an old lady and she does the same.

Persons With Disabilities

It's generally not a good idea to make fun of any sort of disability. If you do, expect anything from Dude, Not Funny! to people wanting to chew you out/kick your butt. Note, however, that persons with disabilities can and do poke fun at themselves (Josh Blue, for instance, has cerebral palsy and gets good laughs at its expense.) It's also okay to satirize negative portrayals of disability in order to show that the people who made the original piece are bigots. For example, a recent Autism Speaks infomercial has gotten this in spades.

Western Animation
  • Despite the fact that South Park makes jokes at characters in the series who have disabilities, it's generally better received because 1.The jokes generally have nothing to do with their disabilities (though it may appear that way when they are first introduced as grotesque figure with a silly voice), and 2.The only time someone makes fun of a characters disability, they're usually shown to be a Jerkass, with Cartman usually making such jokes. A popular reference is the Tourettes syndrome episode, which shows the disability very realistically, with the only exception being Eric Cartman, which is justified since he's faking it. Another example are Jimmy and Timmy who have become part of the regular cast and weren't treated as some gimmicky one-shot joke characters.

People who excel at school subjects

Many regions love mocking them to death for being out of touch with society and for having no social life at all (such as the US and UK), but in other regions (such as Flanders) insulting them for those reasons is going to get you labeled as someone who is jealous at best and anti-social at worst. This is because in those regions high notes are seen as an important value and a guarantee for later success at life.

    Works 
Works and Creators of any work that is considered as "True Art"

See Also: It's Popular, Now It Sucks, True Art, Sacred Cow, Defensive Fans, Critical Dissonance, and Public Medium Ignorance.

An example of this when it comes to media instead of people: Whenever and wherever the It's Popular, Now It Sucks trope is in effect, any media that fits any of the True Art categories; as well as their creators, are granted immunity to any form of criticism in any way in these areas. In other words, these are works which are met with near universal approval and are outside the bounds of criticism for some even if flaws are present. Covering anything from a whole series down to props within that universe, these works are considered so either out of respect, nostalgia, or plain fan love.

Unfortunately, this also means a fair critique cannot be made against it at any point in time as it'll be met with the same revulsion as Squick-inducing shipping or trolling. Furthermore, many of these works tend to get a free pass when it comes to flaws that popular works would be slammed if they didn't bear such a pass. An unfortunate amount of Fan Dumb, Fandom Heresy, Hypocritical Fandom, Nostalgia Filter, and The Law of Fan Jackassery tend to come from this.

Anime and Manga

  • Anime And Manga in general. Expressing your distaste for it as a whole will probably cause of a lot of otakus to pin you as an uncultured slob who has a rose-tinted view on "crappy" American, or whatever non-Japanese country you're from, media. Even not knowing much about it (e.i. "I watched a manga") will probably get you a lot of flak.
  • Deconstruction anime tends to be this. Most forums discussing those kinds of anime are lacking criticism because they're off-limits from such things for some reasons.
  • Shows with antagonistic knife-toting Yanderes receive a similar treatment as well, especially if said characters are glorified in the fandom, no matter how unjustified their actions are. Do you hate them and wanted to find anyone in the internet who shares your sentiment? Good luck.
  • Azumanga Daioh, for the same reason as Yotsuba&! below.

Comic Books
  • The comic community site Scans Daily seems to have a rule of "The more mainstream it is, the more critical we are." High-profile works in particular seem to be prone to getting picked apart, while lesser-known comics are considered off-limits to criticism.
  • Watchmen. You don't insult it if you enjoy having skin.

Fan Fiction
  • Its debatable if the exploitation of the child-like Kokiri in Zelda's Honor was a necessary evil for the villains to proceed with their plans. Some of the abuse on them can be quite shocking; to a point where a few reviewers/readers weren't even sure they could continue reading the fanfic.

Film

Live-Action TV
  • Examples of these include Top Gear.
  • If you're within the hearing range of a Browncoat, do not insult Firefly. Actually, just don't insult any of Joss Whedon's works, except for maybe Alien Resurrection and the Buffy movie.
  • American television in general, at least to people who are not American. Expressing your distaste for it can cause lots of Netflix owners to come at you and blame you for being so rose-tinted about your crappy culture and insulting something that is inherently better.

Literature
  • Any novel or series acknowledged as a classic. Pointing out flaws in the work is almost always acceptable (though you can expect Internet Backdraft), but dismissing the entire thing as garbage usually provokes universal outrage.
    • For example, if you mock Lord of the Rings, hordes of angry Tolkien fans will be on your case.

Music
  • Anything listed as a "Classic" or "oldies" tends to fall into this as time marches on. If you actually say you don't like bands such as The Beatles today and aren't very old, you will be treated like a heretic.
  • If a musician died young, it's usually a bad idea to criticize their music (see also: Dead Artists Are Better) because people who do like them will treat you like you just sprouted horns and a tail. God help you if you say in public that you don't care for music made by John Lennon, Kurt Cobain, Jimi Hendrix, Michael Jackson, Amy Winehouse, or countless other dead musicians.

Software
  • The Mac OS (or anything made by Apple, for that matter) got this treatment back in the day in that any sort of criticism of the Mac (or simply preferring Windows over Mac) is bound to get you burned to a crisp. This is less frequent today due to the resurgence of Apple, as well as some of the controversies Apple has been involved in as a new-found Mega Corp. and all, but you can still find some very Defensive Fans in some areas.
  • Depending on where you are, don't trash Linux. You will be accused of "supporting the evil Micro$oft empire" (although you can also say the same for Mac OS). Exceptions may be granted if you choose instead to bag on a particular Linux distribution, though, or if you're criticizing Linux as a user of one of the BSDs.

Video Games
  • Examples of these include System Shock 2, The Elder Scrolls (but only Daggerfall as well as Morrowind in some areas, as well as Skyrim in a few), not to mention the first two games in the Fallout series (and sometimes Fallout 3 and Fallout: New Vegas), Baldur's Gate, Planescape: Torment, StarCraft (the first one especially), Warhammer, Shadowrun or Old World of Darkness anything, Cave Story, Torchlight, anything that's "indie", and anything made by Valve Software (especially Half-Life and Portal).
    • Not always so — if the reviewer takes the time to establish themselves as being very reasonable early on, is polite, posts in a community not infested by rabid fans, and uses solid logic in writing up their review, then it's entire possible for even a highly critical review of Half-Life 2 to be received with civility.
    • To wit, anything that's Indie, any review that's critical of the game at all or even saying it's anything but the absolute best thing ever made is usually downrated into oblivion, anyone who dares say they even find some things wrong with it will usually be written off as a hater or a mindless Call of Duty fan (to use the most polite term). Even Total Biscuit, who dares say anything bad about indie titles, usually gets thousands of comments on his videos insulting him for not finding something to be True Art, and comments agreeing with even one point that Total Biscuit makes are downvoted and considered "Spam". Not that he cares, seeing as they give him just as many views as people who legitimately agree with him.
  • Online gaming-wise, a good way to find out if a game or service is given the "Immunity To Criticism" label is how the service is received when it comes to discussions about GIFT. If you mention popular or non-sacred works such as Counter-Strike, Quake, World of Warcraft, or anything on Xbox Live in such topics, bombardments of complaints will occur which basically summarize down to "The game/service should be killed with fire and everyone that plays it should be beaten mercilessly. And i don't care if the griefers are a Vocal Minority." However, if you did to same to a game or service that is given Sacred Cow status, say Team Fortress 2, it will either fall on deaf ears and/or you will be bombarded with No True Scotsman type fallacies that the service or game is immune to this.
  • The quickest way a gaming critic or gamer can kill their street cred is to trash PC Gaming, or even say you enjoy consoles better.
    • That said, the term "PC master race" tends to get thrown around a lot by people on both sides who should be aware of the implications of the phrase "master race". There are also a lot of people who are aware of the implications and use it as an insult to bash the PC Gaming Fan Dumb.
    • The very opposite can occur too.
  • The MOTHER series (especially Mother 3), and for that matter anything made by Shigesato Itoi, is beyond criticism. Detractors will face the wrath of the Starmen.net community, /v/, Nintendo fans, and the fans of all three of The Runaway Guys.
    • Interestingly enough, Mother 3 is actually looked at with a generally very negative fan sentiment from its home country, as explained halfway through this Q&A article from EarthboundCentral — perhaps, in America, due in large part to being officially unreleased, and the massive work of the fan-translation project several years later, Mother 3 is seen as a Sacred Cow and Unacceptable Target in the West...but in Japan, that particular installment is ridiculed, bashed, and hated on the Japanese internet. Often. With many Japanese fans even considering Itoi to be "a washed-up old hack". Quite a strange example of region-specific aversion in the case of Mother 3. However, of course, Mother 2/Earthbound is still very much true to this trope no matter which side of the Pacific you reside on, as is MOTHER to a lesser extent...unless you want to mock the extreme difficulty of the first game, particularly the final area or if you are Dr. Sparkle (He noted that it were mainly the pop culture elements that made the game unique and that it would otherwise have been a generic RPG and that the game had lots of flaws. He still said that it was the one of the two best games of the episodes (tied up with Splatterhouse: Wanpaku Graffiti)).
  • Generally speaking, you might be able to get away with claiming that The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time is overrated, outdated by modern standards, surpassed by its own successors, or simply not your cup of tea. If, however, you attempt to dismiss it as being bad you'll immediately be ridiculed as an ignorant Philistine at best, or flamed to within an inch of your metaphorical life at worst. Egoraptor lampshaded this in his Sequelitis episode.
    Egoraptor: I am harshly criticizing Ocarina of Time on the internet! I'm gonna get crucified!
  • The Call of Duty series had once received this treatment, especially when it really started to compete with the Halo series for the most popular FPS crown. When Modern Warfare came out, calling it anything but the "Halo killer" would instantly kill your street cred at the very least. Not long after, though, controversies involving future iterations of the franchise by Activision along with its boom in popularity would eventually kick them out of sacred cow status. Nowadays if you say anything positive about Call of Duty, you'll be lucky if you aren't murdered in your sleep, and ironically even Halo is treated more of a sacred cow in comparison nowadays.
  • Say you didn't play Psychonauts and no one will think twice, it being a relatively obscure Cult Classic. Say you played it and didn't care for it, on the other hand....

TV Tropes Wiki

Yotsuba

ANONYMOUS and their affiliated websites (4chan, Encyclopedia Dramatica, etc.) have a nearly unlimited list of Acceptable Targets...yet even in their circles they have Unacceptable Targets, one of which is the title character of Yotsuba&!. You do not ask for Rule 34 of Yotsuba; they will destroy you. Without regret.

Web Original
  • Some people have gone out of their way to make exceptions involving aged-up versions of the characters. One such instance was the Comiket doujin "Four Leaf Lover". Yotsuba and her friends go on an innocent group date with non-Japanese men, get drunk, and have dub-con sex. They become drug-addicted sex toys. It was apparently requested and translated by 4chan /d/ members. That's /d/ for you. That said, when the same people made an (even worse) sequel, Anonymous turned its wrath on them.
  • On one Rule 34 site, clicking the Yotsuba tag takes you to the site's full list. In other words, if you look for porn of Yotsuba, you'll get everything but.
  • Averted on e-hentai.org . Doujins with Rule 34 of Yotsuba are still available on the site.

TV Tropes Wiki
  • In fact, one of the working titles for this trope was "Yotsuba Is Off Limits".

National Anthems

There is no faster way to get an entire nation angry at you than to mock their national anthem. Even mocking your own is venturing into dangerous territory. Sports fans cross this line at their own peril.

Other

    Other 
Pets

Web Original

Western Animation

Real Life
  • Just ask Kenny Glenn, who posted a video of himself and a friend abusing a cat on YouTube; after a link to the video was posted on /b/, he was identified mere hours later by /b/tards who compared the video to photos on several social networking profiles to find out his name and location, reported him to his local police, and got him and his friend arrested on animal abuse charges — all in that same week. If you thought Kenny got it bad, Cheyenne Cherry got it even worse.
  • Never ever post videos of throwing puppies into a river. /b/ and Michael Bay will find you.
  • Clint Eastwood is a known lover of animals, and he and his wife keep several animals that they've rescued on their ranch, and Mr. Eastwood loves talking about how much he loves them, and how much he despises people who abuse animals. So put it this way: if you abuse animals, Clint Eastwood — Dirty Harry himself — will find you and punish you.
  • Perhaps shown best by the video of a British woman putting a cat in a bin which was shown on multiple news networks throughout the world. She was hunted down by the papers demanding to know why she had done it (no reason, as it turns out). She had to have police protection to keep the crowd that formed outside her house civil. In the end, she was banned from keeping animals for five years, fined required to pay to the victim (the owner of the cat, not the cat itself), and had to give up her job at a supermarket.
  • In 2003, Clay Aiken was on his way to a promising radio career. Then he did an article stating his dislike for these purry creatures, and his career sank to the point where he had to go Broadway.
  • If one where to think in line of pets as being nothing but cats and dogs the stereotype would be subverted in Northern and Southern Sudan, at least if the book The Mask of Afrika would have been an accurate portrayal of the phenomenon. In it the main characters talks about a scene that took place in Southern Sudan in which she was talking to different people who were discussing what would be the best strategy to kill cats so that they could be served for dinner. She also noted that cats were eaten in the south since in the northern territory they prefer eating dogs (affectionately called Red Wolf). It seems however that the president does not share in their eating habits since he actually does have pets. Let us just say that the author was happy that the president did not do that.

Once Acceptable Targets

Some Once Acceptable Targets can also be Unacceptable Targets at times, although not always.

Really, anyone (and anything) in some places

See also: Rule of Cautious Editing Judgement, Berserk Button, and Ban on Politics

In some groups, it's not a good idea to mock the things or persons that they like or think that it is good. In other places this might be okay, although not everywhere considering that many don't want to deal with the Fan Dumb, Hate Dumb, or any Internet Backdraft involving the mockery. For example: any religious and political views and individuals are repeatedly mocked, but you should never mock them if they're the majority of a group. In an anime-related forum or circle, it's best not to invoke Animation Age Ghetto or proclaim hatred to anime by itself. And so on.

Alternative Title(s):

Unacceptable Target