Follow TV Tropes

Following

Break The Haughty / Live-Action Films

Go To

Break the Haughty in live-action movies.


  • Are We There Yet?: Bratty Half Pints Lindsay and Kevin are so determined to get their parents back together, they’re willing to terrorize all their mother’s potential boyfriends. They spend half the film tormenting Nick, from toying about him kidnapping them to locking him out of his car to jumping on a train to get away from him. Then, when they get to their dad’s house, they find out that he has been lying to cut them out of his life and started a new family without them. Even with all the horrible stuff they did, it’s hard not to feel bad for them when you see their faces.
  • Advertisement:
  • Sister Clodagh's arc in Black Narcissus is all about this trope: she's too proud of her new position as the Order's youngest Superior, lacks the spiritual resources to adequately counsel her nuns (one of whom is rapidly going insane), and is increasingly beset by memories of her own Unrequited Love.
  • This is the entire plot of the 1930 German film The Blue Angel: a proud professor (played by Emil Jannings) becomes infatuated with burlesque singer Lola (Marlene Dietrich) and, after a one-night stand, they get married. He leaves his well-respected job, comfortable apartment, and quaint village to go on the road with the troupe, where he slowly discovers that Lola is not as faithful as he is. Over the next few years, his pride and humanity are methodically stripped away as he is forced to perform more and more embarrassing acts. At the climax of the film, the troupe returns to his village and, dressed as a clown, he has eggs broken over his head and is forced to crow like a rooster in front of a crowd of his former students and colleagues. Then he finds out Lola is leaving him for another man. Then he kills himself. What did you expect? It's a German movie.
  • Advertisement:
  • James Bond goes through this in Casino Royale (2006), first getting lectured by M, Gets captured, stripped, and tortured via Groin Attacknote , but the one that really does him in is falling in love with and getting betrayed by Vesper Lynd. Le Chiffre himself goes through this as well after his Evil Plan fails, getting attacked by the Africans he owes money to, losing to Bond after he thought Bond was out of the game, and then dying after scratching Bond's balls.
  • This is the title character's chosen method of revenge in The Count of Monte Cristo.
  • It was quite fun watching the victims' terror just before they were attacked in Dead Friend (aka The Ghost), considering what haughty bitches they were in the past. The movie even emphasizes how cruel and nasty they were in flashbacks.
  • Advertisement:
  • Doctor Strange (2016): Stephen Strange is a brilliant but unbearably arrogant surgeon. So, naturally, he gets into a horrible car accident which robs him of his surgical abilities, fruitlessly searches for a cure for the nerve damage to his hands, and is finally forced to give up his scientific convictions and beg a group of mystics to help him.
  • Prince Henry (a hero, no less), Rodmilla, and Marguerite in Ever After.
  • White gets dragged across the Despair Event Horizon at the end of Exam, when his plans are foiled and he is forced to exit the test for breaking the rules. He tries to fire the Guard's gun on his own head and commit suicide, but fails.
  • This is the driving motivation behind the Villain Protagonists in The Final. Rather than kill their pretty, popular classmates, they instead horribly torture and mutilate them so that, when they go back to school crippled and disfigured, they will know what it's like to be at the bottom of the Popularity Food Chain.
  • Happened to star player Boobie in Friday Night Lights. The kicker is that it's not just predictable characterization; it actually happened in real life!
  • A slow-working example; in Groundhog Day, the entire purpose of the time loop in which the arrogant and narcissistic Phil Connors has found himself trapped seems to be to take him down several pegs. From his perspective it doesn't seem so bad to start with; he can do whatever he wants, take advantage of whomever he wants and wakes up day-in-day-out having avoided any of the consequences of his previous day's actions. But then the day keeps repeating, the woman he really wants to woo keeps rejecting him and despair gradually kicks in...
  • Vanessa in The Grudge series is the vain Alpha Bitch of the school who loses her popularity and considerable good looks after being tormented by the grudge curse, which eventually kills her and traps her soul as a ghost for the rest of eternity.
  • According to G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra this is apparently what happened in Storm Shadow's backstory, what with his being surpassed by some random street-kid and their teacher being a wonderful example of a "Well Done, Son!" Guy. This is well in accordance with several previous versions of their backstory, though the Old Master is sometimes Stormy's uncle.
  • Rude jock Cormac Mc Laggen, in the 'dragon balls' scene in Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince.
  • In The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 2, as per the book, the Capitol citizens get more than enough share of misery throughout the film, thanks to the war waged against their hometown. Sure, they aren't evil as much as they are ignorant, you can't help but take a hidden delight at seeing them having to experience in one go what the district citizens have experienced for the past 75+ years. Specifically, they're forced to beg for food for once, having to evade a war zone, and finally, watching their children being blown to bits by bombs.
  • Joan Webster, from I Know Where I'm Going! is a Proper Lady truly out of her element in the more down-to-earth Scottish Hebrides, and eventually, this trope comes into play, mostly because she realizes that money isn't everything.
  • In Kingdom of Heaven, Guy de Lusignian says that he will be the king of Jerusalem after Baldwin dies. He couples this with wanting to slaughter all of the Saracens in the Holy Land to have the Christians own it. After he murders Saladin's sister, Saladin retaliates by demanding the surrender of Jerusalem. Then Guy and all of his followers (the priest of the lot stating that if a Crusader army carries Jesus's cross with it, they are undefeatable) go and try to fight him. Due to poor planning, the Christian army is easily beaten, and Guy captured and made to ride on the ass of an ass as the Saracen army laughs at him. In the director's cut, it doesn't do anything for him, as he still tries to kill Balian but is then beaten (again).
  • The bullied and mousy Maria in "Look Away" has only one friend, the beautiful, popular, and athletic Lily, who is a budding ice skating champion. However, Lily is a vain mean girl and school Alpha Bitch who only barely tolerates Maria and does not stand up for her when she is bullied. Lily turns on Maria and bullies her after she realizes Maria has a crush on her boyfriend. Despondent, Maria switches places with her mysterious,more confident, and sexier alter ego, Airam, who takes vengeance on Maria's bullies and works to fulfill Maria's fantasies while posing as her. Airam brutally assaults and disfigures Lily while they are skating, steals her boyfriend, and takes Lily's place as the school beauty and Alpha Bitch. Lily recovers but her face is permanently disfigured, all her beauty is gone, and her legs are so badly damaged that her ice skating career is over. She loses her popularity now that she is one of the uglier girls in the school and is miserable that Maria (as Airam) is with her former boyfriend and is so much more beautiful and popular than her now.
  • Happens in the second half of Mean Girls to many characters — First Gretchen, then Regina and finally Cady.
  • My Man Godfrey: Cornelia spends much of the movie acting high and mighty, mistreating Godfrey, even framing him for stealing her pearls. She is broken when, first, her dad reveals he has gone broke, and secondly, when the same butler ends up saving his father's fortune.
  • A number of Katharine Hepburn films revolve around Hepburn's character getting this treatment, in particular as Tracy Lord in The Philadelphia Story and Tess Harding in Woman of the Year.
  • Hilary Faye in Saved! learns a lesson in humility after crashing into Jesus.
    • To a lesser extent, her polar opposite Cassandra gives up much of her attitude after being expelled and getting in a big fight with her boyfriend.
  • The Secret Garden: Mrs. Medlock, after Archibald Craven gives her a verbal smackdown near the end. Not only does she break down in a sobbing heap on the steps, but she offers to resign as well.
  • Shadowlands is in part a movie-long example of this for the character of C.S. Lewis. When we first see him, he's giving a public lecture on the religious problem of pain and suffering, in the course of which he confidently states "I don't think God wants us to be happy." Later in the film, he meets Joy Gresham, and, for the first time in his life, falls in love. Then she gets diagnosed with terminal cancer. Towards the end of the film, he gives the lecture again, but in the meantime, he's actually known happiness, and all his smug remarks about how "Pain is God's megaphone to rouse a deaf world" are ashes in his mouth.
  • Stephen Chow uses this trope a few times. Golden Leg from Shaolin Soccer starts as an arrogant football ace who is so stuck up he makes his teammates kneel so he can put his foot on them to tie his laces. Within minutes he is crippled and after a Time Skip we see he is now living off a charity job as a gopher for a former teammate.
  • This is most of the plot of Spider-Man 3. When Peter Parker puts on the black suit, he gets a swelled head and a severe case of testosterone poisoning, turning him into a Jerkass. Eventually, he gets enough sense beaten into him that he goes back to being his old self again. To be fair, the swelled head was already in play as the start of the film and he was already getting into a vengeance mood about certain events in the middle of the film; the suit just made them worse.
    • All the younger characters in the movie got this.
      • Peter Parker's example is the main focus of the movie.
      • Mary Jane's jealousy of Peter's well-deserved-and-long-overdue recognition as Spider-Man serves as a catalyst for most of the film's plot. By the end, she and Peter have both been thoroughly humiliated and nearly killed, and their relationship has been all but ruined.
      • Harry's vendetta against Peter carries over from the last film. However, by this point, it's become less about avenging his father than stroking his wounded ego. It eventually gets Harry's face blown half off. He later gets stabbed by Venom with his own glider, albeit after learning the truth and performing a Heel–Face Turn.
      • Jerk Jock Eddie Brock's attempt to one-up Peter by snapping Spider-Man's first Black Suit outing ends with Spidey smashing his camera and dismissing him before leaving. Eddie then retaliates by plagiarizing Peter's previous Spidey photo to win the staff job. Peter not only gets Eddie fired from the only paper in New York that would hire him but gets his job at double the salary. Eddie ultimately ends up getting blown up with the Venom symbiote he was using to kill Peter himself.
      • So far J. Jonah Jameson's had at least one Break The Haughty moment in each film: the Goblin destroying his office in the first, and MJ dumping his son at the altar in the second. The third film gives him a triple-whammy by forcing him to fire Eddie Brock for plagiarism, print a retraction in the next edition, and pay Peter Parker double the staff photographer salary. The look on his face as he watches Peter settle into his office is priceless.
      • Gwen Stacy wasn't so much haughty as she was one of Spider-Man's fangirls. The moment she realized how badly she was screwing up Peter and MJ's relationship, she apologized to her and bailed out on him, thereby averting the trope.
  • Discussed by Admiral Pike in Star Trek Into Darkness.
    Pike: There's greatness in you, but there's not an ounce of humility. You think you can't make mistakes, but there's gonna come a moment when you realize you're wrong about that — and you're gonna get yourself, and everyone under your command, killed.
  • The Jedi Council is the bane of many a Star Wars fanfiction writer, particularly those writing about the KotOR era. It seems to be generally accepted by people that the council members are all a bunch of stuck up, worthless dicks who are completely wrong in their assessment of what leads to the Dark Side (apparently people forget that Obi-Wan was a council member) and so many writers want to write about a character who gets one up on the council, which can range from mild humiliation to full-blown mass murder. The problem is if a Jedi character does this, it automatically proves the council 100% correct. Given the Council gets slaughtered by the Sith Lord they were hunting, who had manipulated them and the Republic into the Clone Wars, and who then stole their prized Chosen One...well, Palpatine kind of trumped any fanfic writers, didn't he?
    • Some of the politicians of the SW universe can be examples of this trope, such as Borsk Fey'lya.
    • Matt Stover plays this up in the Novelization of Revenge of the Sith.
      • Dooku starts the duel against Anakin and Obi-Wan supremely confident that no Jedi can ever be a match for him; that confidence starts to crack when he realizes that his opponents (especially Anakin) are far more powerful than he gave them credit for, and it completely shatters when Anakin slices his hands off. What's left of his confidence disintegrates as it finally sinks in how utterly expendable he's been the whole time.
      • During his duel against Palpatine, Yoda realizes that the Jedi's inability/refusal to change over the last millennium set the stage for their defeat. Afterward, Yoda admits his own arrogance and inflexibility.
  • In the remake of The Stepford Wives, Joanna is a successful TV executive with a lineup of sleazy reality shows pitting the genders against each other, all of which stating that Women are superior to Men in every way. Then she gets shot by the guy who lost his wife during said game show, is fired as no network will take any of her ideas after the backlash, and has a nervous breakdown. And then her husband suggests that they move to Stepford...
  • The Third Man: Holly Martins is stubborn, belligerent, and disorderly, but surviving assassination attempts and killing a close friend takes a toll on him by the end of the film, turning him into a cynical man lost in Vienna.
  • After revealing himself to be a reckless and arrogant Blood Knight and instigating a war between the Frost Giants and Asgard, Thor was cast out of Asgard by his father, Odin, and forced to live as a mortal to teach him humility.
  • The movie Trading Places where Dan Aykroyd does Exactly What It Says on the Tin.
    • Then later, Dan's revenge against the Dukes who are broken spectacularly as a result.
  • English Bob in Unforgiven has his gun dismantled, is beaten savagely, and is abandoned by his trusted scribe Beauchamp. It's supposed to illustrate the near-boundless cruelty of Sheriff Little Bill, but considering many of the stories Bob told Beauchamp were HEAVILY exaggerated, if not outright fabricated, and considering Bob did little to ingratiate himself to his American hosts beforehand (mocking Americans for having a president for a leader instead of a monarch, for example), his mistreatment landed him much closer to this trope for many viewers.
    • The Schofield Kid, who starts out eager to drop Badass Boasts about his kill count and prowess, and tell anyone within earshot what a stone-cold killer he is. Taking aside the fact he can't see or shoot for shit, that is all a complete lie too, because when the time comes for him to deal with Quick Mike, his first ever kill leaves him ashamed and emotionally broken. He ends up skipping town with his share of the prostitute's reward money, tearfully swearing to never pick up a gun again. In earlier drafts of the script, he was actually Driven to Suicide over the guilt.
  • The Usual Suspects has a glorious example in the form of Agent Kujan, who goes into Verbal's interrogation intent on hearing what he wants to hear, that Keaton was the mastermind of the whole movie and the mythical "Keyser Soze" everyone's so mystified by. Verbal tells him just that, and Kujan realizes too late that the entire movie, Verbal (who is self-admitted to be, by trade, A CON ARTIST) has just spent the entire movie feeding him an impromptu story he pulled completely out of his ass just to chew up the time until he's released, and that he has just let Verbal, the real Keyser Soze, walk out his front door and get away clean. All this after posturing condescendingly to Verbal how much smarter he is than him, and that Verbal is just a stupid, weak cripple who is nowhere near as dangerous as his fellow criminals (all of whom it is implied Verbal personally murdered to cover his tracks.) Ouch.
  • UHF: The antagonist R. J. Fletcher and his son, who both work at the successful network affiliate station both fit this trope. Fletcher has his station taken off the air by the FCC for being a Jerkass. The last scene in which we see Fletcher's son has him trip and fall in the mud and then pouting about it. "Weird Al" Yankovic has stated that he inserted this scene because he hates Karma Houdinis.
  • The protagonist of Wake in Fright, John Grant. An Australian schoolteacher making a stopover in the hick town of Bundanyabba, he initially holds its residents in contempt, resenting the "arrogance of stupid people demanding you be as stupid as they are." Soon enough however he's drawn into their world of endless drinking, gambling and kangaroo hunting, ultimately being driven to attempted suicide.
  • In When Evil Calls, Victoria is the most popular girl in school and dating the school dreamboat. She is extremely beautiful but vain and shallow as she only gives the time of day to those she considers attractive. When the school bully discovers that the homely Jane wished she was prettier than the Victoria, Victoria joins in mocking Jane for being ugly and laughs at the idea that she could ever become more beautiful than her. However, Victoria immediately becomes horribly disfigured in a lab accident when acid is accidentally splashed in her face. The acid utterly destroys her beauty and leaves her with a grotesque scar that permanently covers half of her face and makes Jane look beautiful by comparison. After the accident, she is unceremoniously dumped by her boyfriend and abandoned by her friends as she laments the loss of her beauty and tries to adjust to the fact that she will be horribly ugly for the rest of her life.


Top