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Bullying The Disabled

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A character with a disability is bullied because of it.

This trope has been Launched!
Proposed By:
Pichu-kun on Aug 30th 2017 at 11:52:22 AM
Last Edited By:
Pichu-kun on Apr 21st 2018 at 2:56:23 PM
Name Space: Main
Page Type: trope

An easy way to make a character a loathesome character is to have them ostracize or tease someone with a (usually physical) disability. Most bullies wouldn't mock someone for having a disability - it's seen as too mean to mock someone who is "helpless" or someone who has an issue they have no control over - so only the most cruel characters do. Usually only younger characters act this way, however adults and even parents are also known to.

Compare to Bury Your Disabled. Sub-trope to Kick the Dog and Moral Event Horizon.


Examples:

Anime & Manga

  • Ableism in Japan is a reoccuring theme in A Silent Voice:
    • The manga is about a New Transfer Student elementary schooler named Shouko who is bullied for being deaf. The protagonist, Shouya, is the worst of the bullies. He constantly makes fun of her, teases her, yanks her hearing aid off, and gets into a fight with her. After Shouko moves away, the class turn their bullying onto Shouya instead. Years later, a high school aged Shouya learns sign-language and tries to atone by befriending Shouko. Despite this, it doesn't help Shouko's feelings of inadequacy due to her deafness and the suicidal thoughts she's had since elementary school.
    • Shouko's own mother has acted cold towards her due to her deafness. However, she doesn't hate her daughter. Yakeo made Shouko stay in her elementary school so that she could toughen up. When someone does complain about her daughter, she slaps her hard. It turns out that Yakeo's in-laws blamed Yakeo for Shouko's deafness and thought that it was the reason why Yakeo's husband divorced her, giving a reason for her distant behavior towards her daughters.
    • Ueno is a Clingy Jealous Girl who hates Shouko's guts for being close to Shouya. She takes out aggression on Shouko by mocking and bullying her, at one point even telling her You Should Have Died Instead when Shouya saves her from suicide and ends up in a coma. Unlike the other bullies, she shows no remorse towards it. Ueno even tries to shift the bullying away from herself.
  • In Sword Art Online, Shino was often bullied for her PTSD which led her to have a phobia of guns. A certain group of bullies used this to extort money out of her. She eventually Grew a Spine and gets over her fear, preventing the bullies from ever taking advantage of her again.

Comic Strips

  • FoxTrot: Peter once punched out a bully who was making fun of his blind friend Denise. And when Denise learned about it (only knowing Peter punched a guy) she complained that Peter had only punched him.

Fan Works

Films — Animation

Film

  • Forrest Gump: As a boy, Forrest Gump had to wear leg braces to correct a non-existent defect. The doctor prescribed the braces to limit Forrest's movement. When a group of bullies threaten young Forrest, he tries to flee with such fervor that he shatters his braces and bolts away with astonishing speed.

Literature

  • Warrior Cats: Crookedstar was born "Stormkit". After breaking his jaw, his mother renamed him "Crookedkit". Rainflower abandoned Crookedkit after he received his injuries (complete with moving to a separate den) and didn't even give him a life when he became The Leader of his clan. It's implied that, on top of being horrified by his face, she refused to love a kit that would likely die.
  • Stacie from The Babysitters Club moved to Connecticut from New York because she was bullied for being diabetic.
  • Several characters in Wings of Fire aren't shy about either mocking Sunny for her weird looks or calling her "defective". Sunny isn't deformed like everyone thought. She's a SandWing/NightWing mix.

Live-Action TV

  • At one point in Boardwalk Empire, Al Capone is outraged to hear that his deaf son is being bullied at school, and demands to know what kind of bully is that low. His wife points out that the son goes to a special school for the deaf, so disability doesn't really factor into it, it's just a result of Kids Are Cruel.
  • Malcolm in the Middle:
    • Zig-zagged with Reese's bullying of Stevie: while Reese still gives Stevie the occasional hard time, he makes it perfectly clear as the school's Alpha Bully that Stevie is off limits because he's disabled, and when he performs said bullying he actually tries to accomodate Stevie's disabilities in order to make it fair (like numbing his legs so he'll remain seated during a fight challenge, so Stevie will be able to hit him back).
    • When Stevie's parents were about to get divorced, Stevie took a lot of steps backward, becoming unable to speak. Malcolm didn't believe he was really unable to speak, and pretended to bully him in an attempt to get him to fight back, making himself look like a colossal jerk an onlooking crowd.

Visual Novels

  • Katawa Shoujo:
    • Played with when it comes to most characters. While they have a history of being coddled and looked down upon for their disabilities, most haven't been outright mocked for them.
    • Shizune's father and her little brother don't see her as a worthy heir due to her deafness. Her father Jigoro never even bothered to learn sign language and mentions he has in the past hired tutors trying to get Shizune to speak.
    • Hanako has noticeable burn marks on her body that led to her being bullied growing up.

Web Comics

Web Original

  • Zig-Zagged in the Cyanide & Happiness short "Gym Class". The short starts with a gym class being told that they're going to do an obstacle course. A kid named Brian snickers and suggests that Suzy, a classmate who is in a wheelchair, be the first one to do the course. The gym teacher starts to call him out on his shittyness, but Suzy agrees and does all sorts of incredible stunts and feats of strength to complete the course. Brian then attempts it himself... and we get a Smash Cut to him in the hospital, sitting in a wheelchair, and his entire body bandaged up. The doctor informs him that he'll never walk again, and the gym teacher from before and the rest of the kids who joined him in mocking Suzy now laugh at Brian instead because he's disabled.

Western Animation

  • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic: In "Flight to the Finish", Diamond Tiara and Silver Spoon mock Scootaloo's inability to fly, with the intent of crushing her self-esteem and ultimately dividing the Cutie Mark Crusaders. The show is intentionally vague on whether or not Scootaloo actually has a flying disability, but the point remains clear.
  • Family Guy: In "Papa Has a Rollin' Son", Joe reveals he never told his father he's handicapped because he always used to make fun of wheelchair people, calling them "spaghetti legs" and "angel-hair legs" (he worked for a pasta company).
  • Pelswick: Boyd frequently mocks the titular character's condition. He draws the line at physical harm, though.
  • In Total Drama, Mike suffers from dissociative identity disorder. Once his secret is out, Scott proceeds to rub his disability in and uses it to blackmail him by threatening to tell his girlfriend.

Feedback: 14 replies

Aug 30th 2017 at 3:06:45 PM

Comic Strips

  • Fox Trot: Jason once punched out a bully who was making fun of his blind friend Denise.

Western Animation

  • My Little Pony Friendship Is Magic: In "Flight to the Finish", Diamond Tiara and Silver Spoon mock Scootaloo's inability to fly, with the intent of crushing her self-esteem and ultimately dividing the Cutie Mark Crusaders. The show is intentionally vague on whether or not Scootaloo actually has a flying disability, but the point remains clear.

Aug 30th 2017 at 3:43:11 PM

Sep 13th 2017 at 6:14:00 PM

  • Family Guy: In "Papa Has a Rollin' Son", Joe reveals he never told his father he's handicapped because he always used to make fun of wheelchair people, calling them "spaghetti legs" and "angel-hair legs" (he worked for a pasta company).
  • Pelswick: Boyd frequently mocks the titular character's condition. He draws the line at physical harm, though.

Sep 13th 2017 at 8:36:39 PM

  • At one point in Boardwalk Empire, Al Capone is outraged to hear that his deaf son is being bullied at school, and demands to know what kind of bully is that low. His wife points out that the son goes to a special school for the deaf, so disability doesn't really factor into it, it's just a result of Kids Are Cruel.

Sep 15th 2017 at 2:00:06 PM

Film

  • As a boy, Forrest Gump had to wear leg braces to correct a non-existent defect. The doctor prescribed the braces to limit Forrest's movement. When a group of bullies threaten young Forrest, he tries to flee with such fervor that he shatters his braces and bolts away with astonishing speed.

Sep 15th 2017 at 11:49:14 PM

Sep 28th 2017 at 12:19:42 AM

  • In Sword Art Online, Shino was often bullied for her PTSD which led her to have a phobia of guns. A certain group of bullies used this to extort money out of her. She eventually Grew A Spine and gets over her fear, preventing the bullies from ever taking advantage of her again.

Sep 16th 2017 at 4:16:14 AM

Foxtrot: It's not Jason (a magnificent specimen of Girls Have Cooties), it's Peter. And when Denise learned about it (only knowing Peter punched a guy) she complained that Peter had only punched him.

Sep 27th 2017 at 11:29:08 PM

Malcolm In The Middle: Zig-zagged with Reese's bullying of Stevie: while Reese still gives Stevie the occasional hard time, he makes it perfectly clear as the school's Alpha Bully that Stevie is off limits because he's disabled, and when he performs said bullying he actually tries to accomodate Stevie's disabilities in order to make it fair (like numbing his legs so he'll remain seated during a fight challenge, so Stevie will be able to hit him back).

Sep 28th 2017 at 11:41:37 AM

^ In addition to the above:

  • When Stevie's parents were about to get divorced, Stevie took a lot of steps backward, becoming unable to speak. Malcolm didn't believe he was really unable to speak, and pretended to bully him in an attempt to get him to fight back, making himself look like a colossal jerk an onlooking crowd.

Nov 29th 2017 at 1:45:10 PM

  • Zig Zagged in the Cyanide And Happiness short "Gym Class". The short starts with a gym class being told that they're going to do an obstacle course. A kid named Brian snickers and suggests that Suzy, a classmate who is in a wheelchair, be the first one to do the course. The gym teacher starts to call him out on his shittyness, but Suzy agrees and does all sorts of incredible stunts and feats of strength to complete the course. Brian then attempts it himself... and we get a Smash Cut to him in the hospital, sitting in a wheelchair, and his entire body bandaged up. The doctor informs him that he'll never walk again, and the gym teacher from before and the rest of the kids who joined him in mocking Suzy now laugh at Brian instead because he's disabled.

Apr 21st 2018 at 2:56:23 PM

Music or stand-up comedy?

Denis Leary's Asshole Song has these lines:

I park my car in handicapped spaces,
While handicapped people make handicapped faces -
—.I'm an asshole! (He's an asshole!)

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