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Volleying Insults
Two characters in a verbal dispute are reduced to exchanging insults — back and forth, over and over, like a ping-pong ball. Sometimes they escalate to extraordinary heights of inventiveness, but more often it degenerates into utter lameness as they run out of nasty things to call each other and resort to stupid ones. If an intellectual character is involved, their Sesquipedalian Loquaciousness will be their key to victory.

If the participants are of each other's preferred gender, Volleying Insults can sometimes take a left turn into a Slap-Slap-Kiss. Common for Belligerent Sexual Tension.

And if the participants happen to be the same gender, such as with Vitriolic Best Buds, certain fans will use this as a ground for claiming that the pairing has a basis. Namely, that the characters have chemistry by bickering Like an Old Married Couple.

If they're dueling, it's You Fight Like a Cow; if they're in a contest of some sort it's Trash Talk.


Examples

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    Anime & Manga 
  • One Piece
    • Sanji and Zoro; the two fight constantly, and their contests end with "love-cook" and "marimo", respectively. Lately, Sanji has gone straight into using "Zoro-kun" to fake concern for him. After the time-skip, the first thing they do when they meet up again is insult each other. Not one to be left behind, Zoro now calls Sanji "Nosebleed-kun".
    • Don't forget Iceburg and Franky with "Bakanky" and "Bakaburg."
  • Goku and Gojyo from Saiyuki: their fights always end up as "____ monkey!" / "____ kappa!" The most popular fill-in-the-blanks are 'stupid' and 'pervy,' respectively. Often, they just go straight to this trope.
  • In Azumanga Daioh, in the episode where Kagura is introduced (ep. 10), she & Tomo start doing this, and soon degenerate into face-pulling and grappling.
  • In G Gundam, a good part of the interaction between Sheltered Aristocrat George and Boisterous Bruiser Chibodee consists of snarking at each other and throw playful insults around. George calls Chibodee "savage", he retorts by calling George "young master".
  • The last episode of Code Geass R2 had Rakshata and Lloyd bickering at each other when they're in prison, right before Lelouch's assassination at the hands of Suzaku/Zero. Hardly surprising, since they're ex-classmates and members of opposing Rival Science Teams. Lampshaded when the also imprisoned Nina hears them, asks Lloyd's assistant Cécile what's up, and Cécile is all "oh, don't worry hon, they've been like this since forever".
  • In Full Metal Panic!, Kurz and Sousuke tend to do this with each other a lot. Kurz tends to take the dirtier approach, and insults Sousuke by calling him a stupid, naive, gutless virgin (which Sousuke reacts angrily to mainly because he assumes it's probably an insult), while Sousuke tends to attack Kurz as being a lazy, useless good-for-nothing. Interestingly enough, Kurz is shown to pretty much be the only person who can make Sousuke get annoyed to the point where he yells petty insults and bickers. Some people think it means something.
  • Kanda and Allen from D Grayman. They can't go two sentences without Volleying Insults at each other. Most of the time it ends with Kanda calling Allen "Moyashi," and Allen calling Kanda some random insulting name. One example is in the Drama CD where the following conversation takes place:
    Kanda: Gluttonous pig with no sense of taste.
    Allen: Narrow-minded soba idiot.
    Kanda: White-hair.
    Allen: Ponytail.
    Kanda: Cheater-gambler, King of Debts, WIMP.
    Allen: Soap-hair, Tattoo guy, STONE-HEAD.
  • Naruto
    • Naruto and Sasuke do this often in the beginning. One flashback has Naruto calling Sasuke "idiot" repeatedly and Sasuke responding with "dumbass". The fight on top of the hospital was the result of this going out of hand, to the point where Naruto and Sasuke were saying things they didn't even believe just to one-up each other.
    • Ino and Sakura do this after becoming rivals as well, with Sakura calling Ino "Ino-pig" and Ino calling Sakura "Billboard Brow" for her big forehead.
  • Alice and Gilbert of Pandora Hearts revel in this. Gilbert calls Alice "Baka-Usagi" and Alice calls Gilbert "Seaweed head."
  • This is a major part of comedy in Bleach; their expressions, voices and dialogue as they're arguing is downright hilarious to most fans. Participants include Ichigo and Rukia, Haineko and Tobiume, Shinji and Hiyori, Renji and Ichigo, Rukia and Renji, Ichigo and Ishida, Byakuya and Kenpachi, Apache with Sun-Sun and Mila-Rose, Snakey with Chimpette, and now Ikkaku with Shishigawara.
  • Kazuha and Heiji from Detective Conan have a relationship built almost exclusivly from this trope. Most of their conversations will degrade into calling one another "ahou!" (Or, "idiot!")
  • Ranma ½: Ranma and Akane have done this before. Their fights usually involve the words "idiot," "jerk," and "tomboy," but sometimes, they're a bit more creative.
    Akane: What did you say, you little sardine?!
    Ranma: Shut it, savage woman!
  • Any disagreement Gray and Natsu have in Fairy Tail will turn into this.
  • France and England from Axis Powers Hetalia do this on a regular basis. Greece and Turkey have done so on occasion as well.
  • Nichijou: At first played straight during part of a heated argument between Yuuko and Mio over food, but later inverted when they start volleying compliments at each other, before ending the argument with a handshake and a hug.
  • Shin-chan has this going down between all of the Noharas. Yep, it's that kind of show, and it's hella funny.
  • The English dub of the anime of YuYu Hakusho has Hiei and Kuwabara throwing insults at each other from pretty much the moment they meet. Kuwabara's are generally aimed at Hiei's size, while Hiei's go for Kuwabara's power level and (perceived) lack of agility.

    Comic Books 
  • In ElfQuest, two major characters Cutter and Rayek are in a physical duel where they share banter that quickly degenerates from bragging about their skills, to calling each other "Bone Polisher!" and "Bead Rattler!" to "Dog!" and "Snake!" respectively.
  • In the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles comics:
    • Raphael and Casey Jones do this as a way of male bonding, in the first issue after their Northampton exile.
    • This scene is later adapted in the first movie with Donatello instead of Raph, and with both characters going up the alphabet as they did so.
    • A similar scene then occurs in the 2003 cartoon, where Casey and Raph are doing the same thing while roof-hopping.
  • An installment of The Simpsons comics showed Lisa Simpson and Martin Prince engaging in a poetry duel:
    "You're a self-absorbed neurotic mess!"
    "Oh yeah? Well ... you make me ill, I must confess!"
    "Your family is weird and smarmy!"
    "Your mother's boots come from the army!"
    "The air is foul in your abode!"
    "Your ego needs its own zip-code!"

    Comic Strips 
  • Calvin and Hobbes
    • Often exchanged by the title characters. One time, instead of escalating to a Big Ball of Violence, they wind up just doing insulting "impressions" of each other, until Calvin's mom calls, "Time to come in!" They trudge off, muttering:
    Calvin: Leave it to Mom to interrupt our repartee.
    Hobbes: Just when I had you wriggling in the crushing grip of reason too...

    Fan Works 
  • Dragonball Abridged has Nail and Vegeta snappily shooting back and forth for a few moments.
    Vegeta: Trust me, you don't want any of what I am right now.
    Nail: Well come on, bring all four feet of you, or should I count your stupid hair?
    Vegeta: Pretty big talk, coming from a bipedal slug.
    Nail: Big talk, coming from a bipedal bitch.
  • Girl Days: Shampoo and Hilda are not allowed fight due to a peace treaty between their tribes, so they resort to insult each other for hours:
    Shampoo: "Horny Girl".
    Hilda: "Stupid Amazon."
    Shampoo: "Horny girl".
    Hilda: "Stupid Amazon BITCH."
    Shampoo: "Horny SLUTTY girl".
    Hilda: "Stupid UGLY Amazon bitch!"
    Shampoo: "Horny slutty GOOFY girl!"
    Hilda: "Stupid ugly SILLY Amazon bitch!"
    Shampoo: "Horny slutty goofy FAT girl!"
    Hilda: "Stupid ugly silly nasty no-talent Amazon bitch!"
    Shampoo: "Horny slutty goofy fat mean geeky girl!"
    Hilda: "Who you call geeky?"
    Shampoo: "Shampoo call horny slutty goofy fat mean geeky girl geeky!"
    Hilda: "Stupid ugly silly nasty no-talent flat-chested Amazon bitch!"
    Shampoo: "Horny slutty goofy fat mean geeky trampy girl!"
  • In Vinyl and Octavia Have Multiple Dates, Octavia ends up doing this with Neon Lights, before it descends into a pun battle.
  • Legacy of the Rasengan:Naruto has Naruto and Sasuke do. Except they get way too personal.
    Sasuke: "You do realize her (Hinata) father would never let you date her. Especially a filthy unwanted orphan like you."
    Naruto: "Yeah!? What would you know!? The only thing you're good at is brooding about something that happened in the past! At least I look towards the future!"
    Sasuke: "Don't talk of things you know nothing of! My family was all I had!"
    Naruto: "Then make a new one! It isn't really hard! Oh Wait, I forgot. You need to have everything handed to you on a silver platter! You never work for anything you want or have!"
  • Started, but then averted in the This Time Round fic "Ground Work", where Spike from Buffy the Vampire Slayer meets his counterpart from the fictional series St Pudentiana the Fairy Bane:
    "So _you're_ the fairy." Spike said.
    "And you're the bloodsucking demon." Nails said pleasantly. "I was expecting a bit more 'grr', but I suppose you have to take what you can get."
    "Har har." Spike said. "Stolen any babies lately?"
    Nails's eyes narrowed. "_Eaten_ any babies lately?"
    "Nails-" Gaia began.
    Spike opened his mouth to retort... then clamped it shut.
    "What's the matter?" Nails said. "Lost for words?"
    "Nah." Spike said. "Just realised. Only thing I _can_ take the piss out of you for is being a fairy. 'Cause I go any further, I start ripping on _me_."

    Films — Animation 
  • This happens between Madame Medusa and Mr. Snoops in The Rescuers when the Devil's Eye is found.
    Medusa: It's mine! It's all mine!
    Snoops: Double-crosser!
    Medusa: Cheap pickpocket!
    Snoops: Chiseler!
    Medusa: Ugh! Cheap crook!
  • The Secret of NIMH has Martin (Mrs. Brisby's son) doing this with Auntie "Shrew".

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Liar Liar
    • The following exchange occurs in court:
    Dana Appleton: Your Honor, I object!
    Fletcher Reede: You would!
    Appleton: BASTARD!
    Reede: HAG!
    Swoosie Kurtz: Your Honor, I object!
    Jim Carrey: You would!
    Kurtz: OVER-ACTOR!
    Carrey: JEZEBEL! (bursts out laughing) Oh, no! They're on to me!
  • The legendary exchange between Rufio and Peter in Hook, consisting of at least nineteen volleys, climaxing with:
    Peter Banning: Rufio, if I'm a maggot burger why don't you just EAT ME? You two-toned zebra-headed slime-coated pimple-farmin' paramecium-brain, munchin' on your own mucus, suffering from Peter Pan envy!
    Don't Ask: What's a Paramecium-brain?
    Peter Banning: I'll tell you what a paramecium is. That's' a paramecium! It's a one-celled critter with no brain that can't fly! Don't mess with me, man, I'M A LAWYER!
  • In Wild Wild West, West and Loveless take not-so-subtle verbal pot shots at each other for being black and crippled, respectively. This becomes a Brick Joke near the end of the film.
    Loveless: [balancing on the edge of a cliff] Well, I'll be a monkey's uncle! How did we arrive in this dark situation?
    West: [hanging from the back of Loveless' chair] I don't know, Dr. Loveless, I'm just as stumped as you are.
  • Happens in The 40-Year-Old Virgin when David and Cal are playing a video game:
    David: You know how I know you're gay?
    Cal: How? How do you know I'm gay?
    David: Because you macraméd yourself a pair of jean shorts.
    Cal: You know how I know you're gay? You just told me you're not sleeping with women anymore.
    David: You know how I know that you're gay?
    Cal: How? 'Cause you're gay? And you can tell who other gay people are?
    David: You know how I know you're gay?
    Cal: How?
    David: You like Coldplay.
  • The first Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles film had a G-rated version of this between Donatello and Casey Jones. Part of it was that they were trying to go in alphabetical order.
  • Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy, when Ron and Veronica's rivalry finally spills over:
    Ron: You're a smelly pirate hooker.
    Veronica: Well... you dress like a blueberry!
    Ron: Why don't you go back to your home on Whore Island?
    Veronica: Your hair looks stupid.
  • This exchange from The Sandlot:
    Phillips: We play on a real diamond, Porter. You ain't good enough to lick the dirt off our cleats.
    Ham: Watch it, jerk!
    Phillips: Shut up, idiot!
    Ham: Moron!
    Phillips: Scab eater!
    Ham: Butt sniffer!
    Phillips: Pus licker!
    Ham: Fart smeller!
    Phillips: You eat dog crap for breakfast, geek!
    Ham: You make your weenies with your momma's toe jams!
    Phillips: You bob for apples in the toilet and you like it!
    Ham: You play ball like a GIRL!
  • Happens between Xander and Yelena in xXx.
    Yelena: Do you know what a wire trasfer is?
    Xander: Is she for real? Sweetheart, is there anything else you need to do? Let us big boys have a conversation?
    Yelena: "Conversation", a word with four syllables. Do you want some ice before your brain overheats?
    Xander: Ice? Yes, you could chisel some off your heart — if you can find it.

    Literature 
  • In the Discworld novel Mort, Mort and Ysabel have a lengthy slanging match with one another, including, at a few points, taking a moment out to clarify their meaning, before continuing.
  • Year of the Griffin displays this with Felim and the Emir of a far off land. When they meet towards the end of the book, they begin yelling various insults at each other about how their maternal ancestors were different animals. (Your mother was a camel!) It is later revealed that the two are brothers and insulting their own mothers, grandmothers, etc.
  • Artemis Fowl: something of a hobby among most of the main characters, Foaly and Mulch in particular.
  • The Bartimaeus Trilogy: Bartimaeus and Nathaniel, nigh-constantly.
  • The First Law: By circumstances, main protagonist Monza Murcatto and Carlot dan Eider, whom she more than once just slighted, meet on the same side before a major battle in Best Served Cold. An insult volley ensues (though of course strictly speaking both only speak the truth. Or at least, as far as they know):
    Carlot dan Eider: And who is this? The Butcher of Caprile! I thought you were but a thief, blackmailer, murderer of innocents and keen practiser of incest! Now it seems you are soldier, too.
    Monza Murcatto: Carlot dan Eider, such a surprise! I thought this was a battle but now it smells more like a brothel. Which is it?
    Carlot dan Eider: Judging by all the swords I'd guess... the former? But I suppose you'd be the expert. I saw you at Cardotti's and I see you here, equally comfortable dressed as warrior or whore.
    Monza Murcatto: Strange how it goes, eh? I wear the whore's clothes and you do the whore's business.
    Carlot dan Eider: Perhaps I should turn my hand to murdering children instead?
  • The Icelandic Saga of Gunnlaug Viper-Tongue (Gunnlaugs saga ormstungu). A major part of the story is Gunnlaugur confronting his rival in front of the king of Norway and them doing the ancient equivalent of freestyle battle rapping to see who the king favours.
  • Mudge gets something of a Moment Of Awesome in The Paths of the Perambulator, when the world-saving heroes are trapped by a magical cage built of insults. Only Mudge is a sufficient maestro of put-downs to volley the cage's slurs back at it, with each diss's intensity turned Up to Eleven, until it disperses.
    Cage: That's right, tell us everything you know. It won't take long.
    Mudge: I'll tell you everything we both know. It won't take any longer.
  • This is how Beldin and Polgara greet each other in The Belgariad. Being The Grotesque, Beldin doesn't have much use for flattery, so this is how he shows affection. She picked up the practice from her father. Before Polgara was born, Belgarath and Beldin traded insults for the same reason, and even afterward, they would do it occasionally for old time's sake.
  • The Stormlight Archive: The second time Shallan and Kaladin meet in Words Of Radiance, they end up standing in the middle of the hallway in front of the king's rooms, screaming increasingly creative insults at each other. This is largely because the first time they met, Shallan pretended to be a Horneater princess and stole Kal's boots.

    Live-Action TV 
  • The entire concept of Rob Newman and David Baddiel's History Today sketches on The Mary Whitehouse Experience, featuring two history professors insulting each other like schoolchildren; "That's you, that is..."
  • In the Doctor Who episode "Doomsday", the leader of the Daleks and the Cyberleader take turns insulting each other after the Dalek refuses an alliance. What makes this particularly fun is that both communicate in Robo Speak. Mickey sums it up: "It's like Stephen Hawking meets the speaking clock."
  • The is the entire premise of Yo Mamma on the Network Decay-ed MTV.
  • Saturday Night Live: "Jane, you ignorant slut." "Dan, you pompous ass."
  • Parodied in Blackadder series three, with a French revolutionary and aristocrat using various animal insults, from "Dog" and "Snake" up to "Happypotamus".
  • In the Babylon 5 episode "Convictions", Londo and G'Kar are trapped in an elevator. They exchange a final volley of insults as a rescue crew approaches (much to G'Kar's annoyance, as he'd seen the incident as a chance to watch Londo die under circumstances that would not trigger reprisals against his people).
    Londo: There, you see... I am going to live!
    G'kar: ...So it would seem. Well, it is an imperfect universe.
    Londo: ...Bastard.
    G'kar: ...Monster.
    Londo: ...Fanatic!
    G'kar: ...Murderer.
    Londo: You are insane!
    G'kar: And that is why we'll win.
    Londo: ..."Go be the ambassador to Babylon 5", they say. "It will be an easy assignment". Ugh, I hate my life.
    G'kar: ...So do I.
    Londo: Shut up!
  • An episode of Ally McBeal has Ally and her ex doing this two different times, with Ally ultimately winning both rounds. In the first, her conquering insult was "Lawyer!" (ironic, since she was one also), and in the second, she won by calling her opponent, simply, "Man!"
  • From LOST, "Tricia Tanaka is Dead":
    Sawyer: What's your problem, Jumbotron?
    Hurley: Shut up, Red... neck... man!
    Sawyer: Touché.
  • From That '70s Show, between Hyde and Laurie:
    Hyde: Boy Laurie, you really like that hotdog! You didn't even chew it.
    Laurie: Oh hey Hyde, Father's Day is coming up, shouldn't you practice saying: Hi are you my Daddy?
    Hyde: Oh, by the way Laurie, the surgeon-general called, he wants you to stop hoarding all the penicillin.
    Laurie: You know, when you're in prison, your bad table manners will probably just be a turn on for some guy named Tank.
    Hyde: Oh maybe when you're there for a conjugal visit, you can ask him to take it easy on me.
    Laurie: Oh yeah well... NICE HAIR!
  • In one episode of the incredibly obscure Uk Sitcom Never yhe Twain, Windsor Davies' character gets into one of these with a French waiter which ends with both of them consulting a phrase book/dictionary in order to continue the insults. Funnier than it sounds.
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer:
    • Buffy and Willow:
    Willow: I'll stop giving you a hard time... Runaway.
    Buffy: Will!
    Willow: I'm sorry! Quitter.
    Buffy: Whiner.
    Willow: Bailer.
    Buffy: Harpy.
    Willow: Delinquent.
    Buffy: Tramp.
    Willow: Bad seed.
    (ending credits)
    Buffy: Witch.
    Willow: Freak.
    • Xander and Anya's duet in the Season 6 musical "Once More With Feeling."
    Xander: She clings / She's needy / She's also really greedy / She never
    Anya: [interrupting] His eyes are beady!
    Xander: This is my verse, hello!
  • Reba has Reba's ex-husband, Brock, and her close friend, Lori Ann interact with each other in this fashion. For example:
    Brock: (upon walking into Reba's eldest daughter's baby shower) Look at all these beautiful women. (looks at Lori Ann) You must be security.
    Lori Ann: (looking at Brock) I thought we agreed not to hire a clown.
  • Never Mind the Buzzcocks:
    Donny Tourette: (grabbing his crotch) This is what I think of you!
    Simon Amstell: What? You think me a small penis? Well I never!
  • From My Wife and Kids, Michael and Wanda:
    Wanda: I'm going to dedicate my life to making you miserable, even if I have to live to be 150.
    Michael: Well, you only have 4 more years left for that.
  • In The Monkees episode "Monkees Chow Mein", Davy and Mike are dressed as superheroes and use insults as their "weapon":
    Davy: You're nail biter. You're nail biter and your mother never ever loved you.
  • The pilot episode of Community has this exchange:
    Prof. Duncan: I'm asking if you know the difference between right and wrong.
    Jeff: I discovered at a very early age that if I talked long enough, I could make anything right or wrong. So either I'm God, or truth is relative. And in either case, BOOYAH.
    Prof. Duncan: Interesting. It's just the average person has a much harder time saying "BOOYAH" to moral relativism.
    Jeff: Duncan, you don't have to play shrink to protect your pride. I accept. You're chicken.
    Prof. Duncan: Are you trying to use Reverse Psychology on a psychologist?
    Jeff: No, I'm just using regular psychology on a spineless, British twit.
    Prof. Duncan: I'm a professor; you can't talk to me that way.
    Jeff: A 6-year-old girl could talk to you that way.
    Prof. Duncan: Yes, because that would be adorable.
    Jeff: No, because you're a 5-year-old girl and there's a pecking order.
  • In the Two and a Half Men episode "For the Sake of the Child", Charlie and Alan take turns at insulting each other, using up insults that start with each letter of the alphabet. When we see them, they're at L.
    Alan: You are a lush!
    Charlie: You are a leech!
    Alan: You are a misogynist!
    Charlie: You are a mistake!
    Alan: You are a... What are we up to?
    Charlie: N.
    Alan: Thank you. You are a... necrophiliac!
    Charlie: She was drunk, not dead, I challenge!
    Alan: Fine. You... are a narcissist!
    Charlie: Better. You are a nancy-boy!
    Alan: You are old!
    Charlie: You are odd...ly shaped.
    Alan: (phone rings) Hang on.
    Charlie: You are a parasite.
    Alan: Not your turn.
  • Surprisingly, given its Cluster F Bombs and extremely Flowery Insults, The Thick of It doesn't have as many as you'd think. Arguments frequently occur, but they're usually about something that needs to be dealt with quickly and so seldom become simple insult contests. Also, the fact that most of the arguments involve Malcolm Tucker, who can steamroller most opposition fairly easily, means that the shouting matches don't drag on for as long as a fight between equals would.
  • Married... with Children:
    • Happens often between Bud and Kelly. The insults usually center around Al (occasionally Peggy's thrown in as well).
    • Also happens between Kelly and one of her sleepover guests; the final insult before fisticuffs: Bundy.
  • Benson has insults as the main weapon in a duel between him and Clayton. Clayton wins two rounds, Benson the other thirteen.
  • Clarissa and Ferguson on Clarissa Explains It All could insult each other back and forth for a very long time, including one particularly long exchange at the end of the episode "The Silent Treatment."
  • Justin and Alex on Wizards of Waverly Place.
  • Horrible Histories has a sketch with an insult contest between Thomas and the gentleman whose ale he spilled -Shakespeare. Who had a habit of making up his own insults.
    Thomas: "Though art a saucy rogue!"
    William: "How can I respond... to a slobbering, pebbling churlish clophole, a beef-witted gleeking bombailey." (Continues the insults.)
  • Frasier: Both pairings aren't afraid to have polite slinging matches with each other when sufficiently riled. Then there's Niles and Roz, who do it sincerely at first, then make a sport of it long after they've warmed up to each other.
    • Roz and Julia during the tenth season, including one hysterical scene in which they try complimenting each other and end up hurling insults - and loving it.
    Julia: Well, you certainly made an impression on me. I remember, I kept thinking: "Who did she sleep with to get this job?" And then I found out. Everybody!
    Roz: That's a good one! [they laugh] You know, there's a plunger in the bathroom, what do you say we go look for your career?
    Julia: Great! While we're in there I can get your phone number.
    Roz: Don't bother, it's 1-800-BITE ME.
    Julia: "Bite me," that's the best that you've got?
    Roz: Oh, I could spend half an hour on your hair.
    Julia: Well, you should have spent half an hour on your hair.
    Roz: Oh, really? (They laugh.)
    Waitress: It's closing time, ladies, I'm afraid you'll have to leave.
    Roz: But we're just warming up.
    Julia: You know, there's a place down the street that, uh, is open all night.
    Roz: Just like your mouth?
    Julia: Just like your legs? (Julia leaves.)
    Roz: Hey, wait up!
  • Supernatural. The Previously On montage for "Tall Tales" is edited this way to show Sam and Dean pranking and snapping at each other in various episodes.
  • In Moonlighting, anytime Maddie and David arguenote , it has the potential to go into this.
  • On The Electric Company, two cowboys on a screen exchange insults, and subverted at the end.
    Jim Boyd's cowboy: Rat!
    Luis Avalos' cowboy: Snake!
    Jim Boyd's cowboy: Worm!
    Luis Avalos' cowboy: Weasel!
    Jim Boyd's cowboy: Skunk!
    Luis Avalos' cowboy: Dirty dog!
    Jim Boyd's cowboy: Pussycat!
    Jim Boyd's cowboy: Pussycat?

    Myths & Religion 
  • Norse Mythology: Flytings.
    • The most memorable being "Lokasenna" ("The Insults of Loki") of the Poetic Edda in which Loki insults every single god in the pantheon, and is only quelled when Thor threatens to smash his head in. Why did it come to that? Loki was exploiting Sacred Hospitality when he started mouthing off. By the rules, they couldn't reprise, but Loki had to stop when Thor arrived because Thor was late and therefore not yet a guest.
    • Another classic flyting is the exchange between Thor and Harbard the Ferryman (actually Odin in disguise).
    • Nidhoggr, a dragon that sits at the bottom of the world tree, Yggdrasil, trades insults with the unnamed eagle who sits at the top of the tree, with Ratatosk the squirrel running up and down the tree delivering the messages back and forth. Interestingly, at least some versions have Ratatosk trolling both, spreading slanderous gossip that both the eagle and Nidhoggr gobble up, with neither suspecting how much fun he's having at their expense.
  • In the African epic Sundiata the eponymous hero does this with his Worthy Opponent.

    Puppet Shows 
  • In the Avery Schrieber episode of The Muppet Show, Avery does a sketch where he battles "the Monster of the Moors" (Sweetums) in an insult contest.

    Radio 
  • The Opie And Anthony Show is made of this trope. Any show featuring two or more of O&A's comedian friends in-studio is guaranteed to take the aforementioned trope Up to Eleven.

    Theater 
  • The following from 1776:
    John Dickinson: Are you calling me a coward?
    John Adams: Yes! Coward!
    Dickinson: Madman!
    Adams: Landlord!
    Dickinson: Lawyer!
    :: Which, from there, leads to the two whaling away at each other with their walking sticks in a donnybrook that can only be broken up by gunfire. In Congress. Some things never change.
  • In Keating! The Musical a song called "On the Floor" is a rap-battle of volleying insults between Paul Keating and John Hewson. It's all the funnier because all the insults are things they actually said.
  • Gyorgy Ligeti's operatic Mind Screw masterpiece Le Grand Macabre has this embarassing scene where the Black and the White Ministers trade insults with each other — alphabetically, from A to W, because they cannot think of anything that start with X, Y or Z.
    White: Arse-licker! Arse-kisser!
    Black: Blackmailer! Bloodsucker!
    White: Charlatan! Clodhopper!
    Black: Driveller! Dodderer!
  • In Gilbert and Sullivan's last opera, The Grand Duke, the duet of Rudolph and Ludwig. The joke is that they are only pretending to insult each other, to furnish an excuse for the "statutory duel" of the subtitle.
    Ludwig: Tall snobs, small snobs, rich snobs and needy ones!
    Rudolph: (jostling him) Whom are you alluding to?
    Ludwig: (jostling him) Where are you intruding to?
    Rudolph: Fat snobs, thin snobs, swell snobs and seedy ones!
    Ludwig: I rather think you err. To whom do you refer?
    Rudolph, Ludwig:
    To you, sir!
    To me, sir?
    I do, sir!
    We’ll see, sir!
    I jeer, sir!
    (makes a face at Ludwig)
    Grimace, sir!
    Look here, sir—
    (makes a face at Rudolph)
    A face, sir!
  • Also, in Gilbert's Cox and Box, the duet "Who are you, sir?" followed by "Printer, printer"
  • Appears in the ancient Greek comedy The Clouds by Aristophanes.
  • Several examples from the works of Shakespeare:
    Brabantio: Thou art a villain.
    Iago: You are—a senator.
    Beatrice: I wonder that you will still be talking, Signior Benedick, nobody marks you.
    Benedick: What, my dear Lady Disdain! are you yet living?
    Beatrice: Is it possible disdain should die while she hath such meet food to feed it as Signior Benedick? Courtesy itself must convert to disdain, if you come in her presence...
    Timon: When there is nothing living but thee, thou shalt be welcome. I had rather be a beggar's dog than Apemantus.
    Apemantus: Thou art the cap of all the fools alive.
    Timon: Would thou wert clean enough to spit upon!
    Apemantus: A plague on thee! thou art too bad to curse.
    Timon: All villains that do stand by thee are pure.
    Apemantus: There is no leprosy but what thou speak'st.
    Timon: If I name thee. I'll beat thee, but I should infect my hands.
    Apemantus: I would my tongue could rot them off!
    Timon: Away, thou issue of a mangy dog! Choler does kill me that thou art alive; I swound to see thee.
    Apemantus: Would thou wouldst burst!
    Timon: Away, thou tedious rogue! I am sorry I shall lose a stone by thee. (throws a stone at him)
    Apemantus: Beast!
    Timon: Slave!
    Apemantus: Toad!
    Timon: Rogue, rogue, rogue...
    • In Henry IV, Hal and Falstaff spend most of their scenes together trying to top the other in insults.
    Hal: I'll be no longer guilty of this sin; this sanguine coward, this bed-presser, this horseback-breaker, this huge hill of flesh
    Falstaff: 'Sblood, you starveling, you elf-skin, you dried neat's tongue, you bull's pizzle, you stock-fish! O for breath to utter what is like thee! you tailor's-yard, you sheath, you bowcase; you vile standing-tuck—
    Hal: Well, breathe awhile, and then to it again.
  • Seen in the play Waiting for Godot where Vladimir and Estragon spend one page hurling insults until Vladimir yells "Cretin" to which Estragon replies with "Critic", which naturally utterly defeats Vladimir.
  • Cyrano de Bergerac: Viscount de Valvert and Cyrano engage on this in an epic way at Act I Scene IV. It is not pretty for the Viscount.
  • In The Marriage of Figaro, Susanna and Marcellina insult each other in song while fighting over Figaro.
  • In The Threepenny Opera, Lucy and Polly try to out-do each other in the Jealousy Duet, while fighting over Macheath.

    Video Games 
  • Volleying Insults are a staple of Monkey Island. The quality of your insult comes from your swordfighting skill, of all things.
    • The most famous example is the "insult swordfights" from Secret ("You fight like a dairy farmer!" "How appropriate. You Fight Like a Cow."); the Fettucini Brothers indulge in this a bit as well ("Slacker!" "Weasel!" "Ruffian!" "Fop!").
    • The Curse of Monkey Island features rhyming insult sword-fighting.
    • Escape from Monkey Island has insult arm-wrestling and a monkey form of insult battles, "Monkey Combat". Also in Escape, in order to solve a puzzle, Guybrush needs to "borrow" a time clock from two chess players, so he gets the two mad enough at each other that they're too busy Volleying Insults (such as "Falstaff stand-in!" and "Weasel worrier!") to notice him take it. "FRINGE CANDIDATE!"
  • Likewise, there's an entire pirate insult mini-game in Sly 3: Honor Among Thieves where the object is to not do the same insult twice.
  • Pirates and Volleying Insults seem to go well together: a quest in Kingdom of Loathing requires you to face another pirate in a game of Insult Beer Pong. That's a blatant swipe/parody of Monkey Island, though, even to the point of having the same (long, tedious) puzzle solution and even some of the same insults.
  • In World of Warcraft, an exchange between two bumbling ex-cops in Dalaran (possibly a tribute to the above Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles example) goes as follows:
    Jadaar: Arrogant.
    Asric: Braggart.
    Jadaar: Craven.
    Asric: Craven? I am most certainly not! Are we not in the middle of a war z... ah.
    (Jadaar holds up a finger)
    Asric: What were we on? "D"?
    (Jadaar nods)
    Asric: Dolt.
  • The cutscenes of The Amazing Spider-Man for the Game Boy have Spidey trading insults with villains.
  • Imoen and Korgan from Baldur's Gate II get into this in the "Throne of Bhaal" expansion.
    Korgan: Hmph, Imoen, yer an o'er-lame excuse fer a member o' this party and I be tired of exertin' meself to protect ye! Next time I let ye perish, screaming like a ninny as ye does!
    Imoen: The last time I saw you exert yourself over anything was the last slab of pork in an inn. If you could keep up with me with that beer gut of yours I'd be amazed.
    Korgan: Beer gut?! Why, ye stinkin' wench, how dare ye! Keep up with my keen axe as it flies towards yer head, more like! Though it'd be like splittin' a hair, skinny as ye are!
    Imoen: I'd be startled if a drunk dwarven oaf like yourself could hit the broad side of a barn with your axe. And while we're talking about stench, let's talk about the last time you passed out in your own vomit.
    Korgan: An outrage! Yer a canker on me backside and the world would be best rid of ye! Loathsome mongrel she-dog!
    Imoen: Brutish pig! You're nothing but a boil needing lancing!
    Korgan: I've seen harlots with less open sores than ye, ye pimple-faced, whining gutter-snipe!
    Imoen: You cantankerous, foul-mouthed excuse for a gully dwarf!
    Korgan: Gully dwarf? Har har! Ye knows how to hit low, ye does! Har har! Yer a fine, fine lass, ye are, Imoen. That Gorion of yers would be proud.
    Imoen: Aw, gee. Thanks, Korgan!
  • In Planescape: Torment, one of the girls you can meet working in the Brothel Of Slaking Intellectual Lusts is a "mistress of insults" that you can try trading insults with. If you've got high enough Intelligence, Wisdom, and Charisma, you can beat her at her own game, earning you some respect for your skill. Otherwise, you're forced to use a Lame Comeback and earn her scorn.

    Web Comics 

    Web Original 
  • In an alt-universe future game of New Vindicators, there are two characters who are half-sisters and cousins (their father slept with two sisters), with similar super powers. When a new student at the school asks if their powers are the same, they have this exchange.
    Eva: Powers? You'd think it would be tolerating Desiree', but that's just a lifetime of training. Actually, both of us can become super strong due to an extreme adrenal reaction. I can manage it through self-control...Desiree' needs somebody to hurt her to provoke the response. Needless to say, she's a spanking man's dream.
    Desiree: I heard that!
    Eva: Just callin' 'em as I see 'em.
    Desiree: Bitch!
    Eva: Whore.
    Desiree: Skank!
    Eva: Pain slut.
    Desiree: Culero!
  • The top-rated quote on Bash.org is a somewhat meta version.
  • The Nostalgia Critic and The Angry Video Game Nerd do this in their first brawl.
  • The Nostalgia Chick, Nella and Tammy use the Wii FIT to insult the hell out of each other instead of just using it for exercise.
  • Two people from the blog Everything Sucks Forever.

     Western Animation  
  • On Sponge Bob Square Pants, in the episode "Pressure", an argument between SpongeBob and Sandy over whether land creatures or sea creatures are better leads to one of these. It ends when SpongeBob can't think of a better insult than "not-wet person".
  • An Animaniacs sketch features Yakko trading insults with "Howard Tern", ultimately winning out when the best insult Tern can think of is "You're a little shorty-shorty."
  • Beavis And Butthead do this to each other constantly. On more than one occasion, it's actually shown as a sign of endearment.
  • On The Tick (the animated version), this happens between Die Fledermaus and American Maid: "Jerk!" "Jingoist!"
  • The Earthworm Jim cartoon gave us this classic...
    Professor Monkey-For-A-Head: Yellow belly!
    Psycrow: Know-it-all!
    Professor: Bubble head!
    Psycrow: Monkey fancier!
    Professor: (brandishing enormous gun) YOU LEAVE MY MONKEY OUT OF THIS!
  • In Avatar: The Last Airbender, Katara and Sokka pick a fight in front of some Fire Nation soldiers to try and get Katara arrested...
    Sokka: Get out of my way, pipsqueak!
    Katara: How dare you call me pipsqueak, you giant-eared cretin!
    Sokka: What did you call me?
    Katara: A giant-eared cretin. Look at those things! (she flaps her hands around her own ears) Do herds of animals use them for shade?
    Sokka: You better back off! (quietly) Seriously back off.
    Katara: I will not back off! I bet elephants get together and make fun of how large your ears are!
    Sokka: That's it, you're going down!
  • Jackie Chan Adventures. This happens whenever Uncle and Tohru's mom are in the same room.
  • Siblings Bonnie and Billy often did this in the first season of Popples.
  • South Park runs nuts on this trope, usually revolving around Cartman. After about season 4 or so, any scene featuring him and Kyle has about a 50% chance of devolving into an exchange of insults focusing on Kyle's Judaism and Cartman's weight.
  • Ed and Edd exchange this in Ed, Edd n Eddy over a hunk of rotting cheese Ed keeps in his jacket. But Ed's only insult he made was "STINKY HAT!"
  • In the Time Squad episode "Ladies and Gentlemen, Meet Monty Zuma", Tuddrussel and Robot Buddy Larry 3000 start doing this when Tuddrussel gets tired of trying to remain polite and civilized while dealing with Larry mocking him. This ends up working out, as they distract the audience at a comedy contest with their barbs, discouraging Montezuma from becoming a stand-up comic instead of king of the Aztecs.
    Tuddrussel: I tried to look up your Blue Book value, and it said you were worthless.
    Larry 3000: Well, I tried to measure your I.Q., but numbers don't go that low!
  • American Dad!
    • From the episode "Stannie Get Your Gun".
    Hayley: You're such a fascist!
    Stan: Peace pusher!
    Hayley: Murderer!
    Stan: Hermaphrodite!
    • And later
    Hayley: Gun-toting maniac!
    Stan: Beatnik!
    Hayley: Warmonger!
    Stan: Chupacabra!
    Hayley: I'm the Mexican Bigfoot?
    Stan: You heard her, she admitted it!
  • From the Mike, Lu & Og episode "Tea for Three".
    Mike: You're just mad because I wouldn't be your personal fanboy!
    Lu: Am not, thief!
    Mike: Are too, liar!
    Lu: Tea hater!
    Mike: Pain-in-the-pajamas!
  • Throughout Beast Wars, Rattrap and Dinobot were prone to doing this. Especially in "The Low Road":
    Dinobot: Excuse me. Are you implying that the current situation is somehow...my responsibility?!
    Rattrap: Well, you did start it... gearhead!
    Dinobot: I BEG to differ... cheese lips!
    Rattrap: Pre-evolved birdbrain!
    Dinobot: Eater of garbage!
    Cheetor: (listening) Sheesh, and they call me the immature one.

     Real Life 
  • Prime Minister's question time (yes, that really is what it's called) in the UK can descend into this. Luckily there is someone with the job of "Speaker of the House" who stops it going on for too long. There has been at least one incidence of an argument over music groups breaking out (paraphrased);
    MP: (speaking about the recently unelected Gordon Brown) ...as The White Stripes say, "Everyday I love you less and less".
    David Cameron: Actually I think you'll find that song is actually by Kaiser Chiefs. Incidentally, I Predict a Riot.
  • Also frequently occurs in the Australian Federal Parliament's Question Time. Certain politicians are infamous (and often popular) for their command of invective, but the all-time champ in the last few decades was former Prime Minister Paul Keating. Many of his 'greatest hits' can be found on YouTube, and make quite entertaining viewing. They call the floor of the Australian Parliament the "bear pit" for good reason.
  • Sir Winston Churchill is known for more than a few of these. A small sampling:
    Lady Astor: If you were my husband, I'd poison your tea.
    Churchill: If I were your husband, I'd drink it.

    Elizabeth Braddock: Winston, you are drunk.
    Churchill: And you, madam, are ugly. But in the morning, I shall be sober.
  • If you have multiple children who are capable of speech, odds are this will ensue. Even if they are incapable of speech, they will find a way to do this. Bickering trumps all obstacles.
  • Known as "The Dozens", this is a semi-friendly practice of trying to top each others' insults. This is thought to have originated from the slave-trade practice of selling less valuable (old, feeble, deformed) or less skilled slaves by "the dozens", where being included in that group was the lowest insult imaginable.
  • Roger Ebert's feud with Vincent Gallo. After reviewing the premier of Gallo's The Brown Bunny as "the worst film in the history of Cannes," Gallo retorted that Ebert was "a fat pig with the physique of a slave trader." Taking a page out of Churchill's book, Ebert proclaimed that "one day I will be thin, but Vincent Gallo will always be the director of ''The Brown Bunny''." Gallo then claimed to have hexed Ebert's colon, and Ebert replied that a colonoscopy would be preferable to watching the movie again. They have since made up.
  • Henrik Wergeland and rival poet Johan Sebastian Welhaven ended in this while students. The Student`s society had a news wall where clips and scraps were pinned up for public reading. One of the two wrote a humorous verse pointed at the other, and the fight started from there. This quarrel is the more famous because the whole round of insults were in metre and rhyme, and lasted for almost a year. And then somebody witty decided to print the verses in a newspaper... The "scrap feud" became cultural history in a matter of days, as everybody else entered the debate.


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