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Break Them By Talking / Western Animation

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  • Megatron tries this on Optimus Primal in their climactic battle in the final episode of Beast Wars. He even quotes scripture from the Covenant of Primus (a book of truthful prophecies) to prove that Optimus would fail. Then Optimus turns it against him in a Shut Up, Hannibal! moment.
    Megatron: 'And there came a hero who said, 'Hurt not the earth, nor the trees, nor the seas, nor the very fabric of time.' But the hero would not prevail!'
    Optimus: Finish the quote, Megatron! 'NOR WOULD HE SURRENDER!'
  • In the Family Guy episode "Seahorse Seashell Party", Meg finally breaks down and points out all of her family's hypocritical acts of ganging up on her and puting her down making her feel awful, and how they raised her specifically for that purpose. Her Lecture is harsh enough to send Lois into tears, and then makes all of the members of the family turn onto one another, ending with Peter crying and fleeing upstairs where Lois goes to look for him. Brian and she later realise that if the family didn't have someone to act as a lightning rod for their worst behavior then they'd end up destroying each other and themselves.
    • Another example is when Connie D'Amico casually insults Meg at the prom in front of her (very intoxicated) date Brian Griffin:
    Brian: Connie, I think I have a theory about why you're such a bitch. You see, Connie, you're popular because you developed early and started putting out when you were 12, but now, you can't stand to look at yourself in the mirror because all you see is a whore. So you pick on Meg to avoid the inevitable realization that once your body is used up by age 19, you're gonna be a worn-out, chalky skin, burlap sack that even your stepdad won't want. How's that? Am I in the ball park? (Connie runs off in tears)
  • In Futurama, Leela does this to Calculon for his own good, giving him a "The Reason You Suck" Speech that Bender himself calls "the meanest thing I ever saw," all to coax an authentic performance out of him and get him his old job back.
  • Justice League:
    • In the episode "A Better World", the Mirror Universe President Lex Luthor uses one of these on his version of Superman. It partially succeeds. Superman does indeed break down as a result...just not in the way Luthor wanted.
    • In the same episode, Batman also pulls one of these...on himself.
      • And he won. When you think about it, Lord!Batman manages to win the first one ("And with that power, we've made a world where no eight year old boy will ever lose his parents...because of some punk with a gun.") and Batman does this later while driving in the Batmobile ("They'd love it here, Mom and Dad. They'd be so proud of you.").

        The commentary states that the scene was created by one half of the production team debating the other from Batman's point of view. And to actually keep the viewer in the dark, neither Batman nor Lord!Batman faced the audience while talking, thus allowing a one sided conversation that either Batman could have been winning until the reveal.
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    • In the Justice League Unlimited episode "Divided We Fall", several of the robotic evil knockoffs created by Brainithor (Lex Luthor merged with Brainiac) use this technique. It works against Superman due to his fears of being Not So Different from his Alternate Universe Evil Counterpart, but Evil Flash has what might be the least successful attempt in history:
    Evil Flash: Slacker! Child! Clown! We have no place here among the world's greatest heroes!
    Flash: Says you! I've got a seat at the big conference table. I'm gonna paint my logo on it! [punches through Evil Flash's chest]
  • In the The Legend of Korra episode "The Voice in the Night" Korra challenges Big Bad Amon to a one-on-one duel, only to be ambushed by his army of Chi-blockers. With her restrained, Amon reaches out threateningly, only to take her by the chin, and announce that while he could strip her of her Elemental Powers and kill her then and there, he won't, because she'll merely become a martyr for her cause. He tells her she'll get her duel when the time is right before knocking her out. When her mentor Tenzin comes to rescue her, she breaks down crying into his chest.
    • Season 3; Zaheer gives a chilling one to the Earth Queen while he's in the process of killing her.
    • Also in the series predecessor Avatar: The Last Airbender, Katara gives a rousing speech to the Earthbending prisoners about being strong people. But the warden there nastily tells her that their spirits were broken long ago, and she failed in her mission. This is enough to make her feel sad... and for Haru and the Earthbenders to strike back.
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    • There's Princess Azula's unforgettable breaking speech to Long Feng when they both decide to betray each other, where she mentions that he had to connive and scheme to rule, whereas she was born with the right to rule. It's so good that she doesn't even have to fight him to take control of the Dai Li from him. He knows he's lost and immediately surrenders to her.
    Long Feng: You've beaten me at my own game.
    Azula: Don't flatter yourself. You were never even a player.
  • The Venture Bros.: An interesting variation of this happens in the season 5 finale; after The Monarch makes half-hearted attempts to physically torture Dr. Venture, he eventually breaks down and openly admits how pathetic he and Dr. Venture had become, eventually leading to Dr. Venture to simply walking away despondently. This was apparently all part of The Monarch's plan to break Dr. Venture's spirit.
  • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic:
    • In "The Return of Harmony", the especially vicious Faux Affably Evil villain Discord corrupts each of the main ponies to keep them from using the Elements of Harmony that they represent against him. Ultimately he just brainwashes each of them with magic (aside from Twilight Sparkle), but he also takes the trouble to break each down before that, usually by talking. In Applejack's case, he manipulates her to doubt the value of honesty (her element) by showing her a terrible "truth" that she can't accept, before turning her into a liar. For Pinkie Pie (laughter), he makes her think her friends laugh at her all the time, before turning her unhappy and hostile. Fluttershy (kindness) is the only one on whom his speech doesn't work, because she's too trusting, and accepting of her own flaws... So he just zaps her into being cruel anyway.
    Discord: Well, it must be so upsetting to know how weak and helpless they think you are.
    Fluttershy: Not at all! I am weak and helpless, and I appreciate their understanding.
    • In "Putting Your Hoof Down", of all ponies to deliver one, Fluttershy does it to both Pinkie Pie and Rarity, calling their interests frivolous and driving them both to tears. Yikes. It's enough to make her realize what a bully she has become and locks herself away in her cottage out of fear she'll insult others.
    • After coming to the realization that she can't beat Starlight Glimmer in a head-on confrontation, Twilight Sparkle resorts to trying to talk her out of the battle. It's effective enough that, rather than defeating her, Twilight is able to actually swing her to the side of good instead.
    • Diamond Tiara has proven time and time again to be very...eloquent in her treatment of the Cutie Mark Crusaders.
  • Mojo does this in his final battle with The Powerpuff Girls in The Movie, until they Fight back.
  • Slade from Teen Titans is a master at this trope. Especially when Robin is the victim because they are Not So Different and that ticks Robin off.
  • Spectra pulled this on Danny in their first appearances in Danny Phantom:
    "Look at you... What are you? A ghost trying to fit in with humans? Or some creepy little boy with creepy little powers? You’re a freak! Not a ghost, not a boy! Who cares for a thing like you?"
    • Being an psychologist, who secretly uses people's misery to keep herself young and beautiful, Spectra did that to almost every student in Danny's highschool (althought most of it was done offscreen).
  • The evil wizard in The Care Bears: Adventure in Wonderland gives Alice one of these, over how neither he nor she thinks she can pass for a princess.
  • The symbiote in The Spectacular Spider-Man combines this with Journey to the Center of the Mind to get Peter Parker to bond with it permenantly, mainly by pointing out that he's living in a Crapsack World and has gotten nothing in return for his heroics. Thankfully his memory of his uncle and friends snaps him out of it.
  • Eric Cartman in South Park gives a Breaking Speech to a British super-nanny, of all people. He starts off asking her innocent questions about her job, which turn into biting remarks about how she'll die alone because "no one wanted to have babies with her". After realizing that Cartman is more than just an Enfant Terrible, she leaves. Later in the episode, he apparently gives a Breaking Speech to another nanny that's so bad it causes her to have a mental breakdown.
  • Often subverted with Jasper from Steven Universe, who regularly attempts this but fails due to the victim either being too self-confident to listen to her or too clueless to understand what she is talking about. The only time it does work is in her first fight with Amethyst, whom she not only utterly curb-stomps without letting her land a single hit, but also shatters her already fragile self-esteem by telling her that she is a failure of a quartz soldier because of her birth defect. This breaks her spirit to the point where she stops fighting and takes a final hit without dodging. This isn't helped by the fact that, when she recovers from her brief breakdown upon realizing she left two children to face a super-soldier alone, she discovers that they took her on with no problem, casing her into depression for the next few episodes.
    Amethyst: (shakily gets up) Rose said... I'm perfect... The way I am...
    Jasper: Then she had low standards.
    (After the battle)
    Steven: We WON! I can't wait to tell the others!
    (Steven and Connie run off laughing)
    Amethyst: Oh, good! (beat, she looks down) You didn't need me at all...
  • In the Voltron: Legendary Defender episode "Crystal Venom". Commander Sendak is accidentally awoken from cryo-sleep by Shiro. Sendak tears into Shiro, claiming that the two of them are more alike than Shiro will admit. Shiro has a nervous breakdown and launches Sendak's cryo-pod into space as a result.
    Sendak: We're connected, you and me. Both part of the Galra Empire.
    Shiro: No! I'm not like you.
    Sendak: You've been broken and reformed. Just look at your hand.
    Shiro: That's not me!
    Sendak: It's the strongest part of you. Embrace it. The others don't know what you know. They haven't seen what you've seen. Face it. You'll never beat Zarkon. He's already defeated you.
    Shiro: I'm not listening to you!
    Sendak: Did you really think a monster like you could ever be a Voltron Paladin?!
    Shiro: Stop it!
  • In the She-Ra and the Princesses of Power season 4 finale, the shape-shifter Double Trouble does this to Catra after they betray the Horde for the Princess Alliance and reveal Catra's treachery to Hordak. Catra narrowly survived Hordak's wrath, only for Double Trouble, disguised as Adora, to emerge behind her. They proceed to shape-shift between everyone Catra has ever betrayed or alienated while delivering an absolutely epic "The Reason You Suck" Speech, telling Catra that she herself is the only reason why everyone she cares about abandons her. An interesting example in that they actually have no personal investment in telling Catra all this, they just wanted to smugly explain why they failed while twisting the knife as much as possible. The speech hits Catra so hard that, when Glimmer finds her a few minutes later, Catra all but asks her to kill her.


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