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Berserk Button

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"Anyone who calls me by that name dies. That is the policy."
Touko Aozaki, Kara no Kyoukai

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Some characters always get enraged when given a certain, minor trigger.

Say you're dealing with a character who seems perfectly normal. They're a nice person; friendly, sociable, and well-adjusted, saving stray kittens and helping old ladies cross the street on the way to their day job of working at a soup kitchen. But then you make a mistake. You happen to mention in passing what you think is a fairly innocuous observation, maybe pointing out that they could stand to lose a little weight, or is a little on the short side, or maybe could use a girlfriend or boyfriend, or you do something that you think is no big deal in their presence, like question Who Names Their Kid "Dude"?. And the character instantly goes ballistic, flying into a screaming, frothing, sometimes tearful Unstoppable Rage, from which you will be lucky to escape with your life.

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You have just pressed their Berserk Button.

The Berserk Button is one type of Trigger, where the response to a minor or generally insignificant thing is one of extreme anger. That is, engaging the trigger turns an ordinary character into The Berserker.

In comedic works, the Berserk Button tends to be a physical feature that the character is insecure or in denial about, like their height. Animals don't seem to like having their species misidentified. Comedic Berserk Buttons are often used to make an otherwise unflappable character lose their cool and go off on a hilarious rant. In cartoons, you can usually tell when a Berserk Button has been hit when the character who has it turns bright red and steam starts shooting out their ears. Dramatic Berserk Buttons tend to be reserved for things that strike a bit too Close to Home for a character.

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In instances where the character’s face turns red, note this is not necessarily a case of Turns Red. Rather usually it is just an expression of anger.

If a person seems to get angry over anything and everything, they have a Hair-Trigger Temper. For the negative effects of hitting the Berserk Button, see You Wouldn't Like Me When I'm Angry. For the trope's opposite, see Kindness Button. See also Trauma Button and Misery Trigger. Compare and contrast Rant-Inducing Slight and Rage Breaking Point, where it's a series of events that disables them from holding back anymore. If a person gets angry that other people aren't taking a (very unimportant) thing seriously, see Serious Business. For things that set the fandom itself off, see Fandom-Enraging Misconception.

For other related tropes, see Anger Tropes, Protective Tropes, Obsession Tropes and Prejudice Tropes.

This is not about anger in response to something that would reasonably enrage someone. While extreme reactions to minor provocations may still qualify, this doesn't apply if the worst that happens is if the character scowls or frowns at the provocation.


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