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Beware the Nice Ones

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You made me climb Mt. Fuji for this, AND YOU SAY IT'S TOO WARM FOR YOU?!

"There are three things all wise men fear: the sea in storm, a night with no moon, and the anger of a gentle man."

Sometimes, trying to Break the Cutie has consequences. Sometimes, the nicest person in the story gets pushed to the limit of what they can take... and the results are not pretty.

The sweeter, gentler, more polite, more peaceful, and overall nicer a character is, the worse it will be for whomever is in the vicinity when they're subject to one round too many of Break the Cutie, or Dude, Where's My Respect?, or hitting their Berserk Button or Rage Breaking Point. What was once a sweet and nice individual suddenly snaps and becomes something far worse than the Big Bad could have expected.

Think it's called Unstoppable Rage for nothing?

Although any Nice One can make you wish you were never born, there are certain tropes which act as a sort of force multiplier. Check any of the following tropes to see just what is most likely in store for whomever set off the Nice One: Badass Adorable, Death Glare (which should never be brushed off), Mama Bear (or Team Mom, or Papa Wolf, depending), The Quiet One, The So-Called Coward, Teach Him Anger (a suicidal idea with the Gentle Giant) and Tranquil Fury. Especially bad when dealing with a Technical Pacifist, and even worse when dealing with an Actual Pacifist (for whom this is not an unusual trait). Combine all at once and there may not be a minimum safe distance to escape their wrath. In the case of a Practical Joke, you will be looking at Prank Gone Too Far, at the very least. In addition, this trope can turn any bear character who is Beary Friendly into Bears Are Bad News.

More Truth in Television than you think — deferring gratification with regards to expressing one's anger tends to make the end result... less than pretty. Also, it's generally more frightening when a more mellow person starts acting up because it's so unexpected. Even when it's not scary, it can make a character feel great shame, as it's when they realize they were such a Jerkass, even the nicest person they know couldn't deal with their shit anymore.

Cultures that have a reputation for being polite, non-confrontational, and passive-aggressive usually have a history of being very warlike in the past; think Scandinavia, Canada, England, or Japan. These cultures developed polite, non-confrontational, passive-aggressive characteristics to keep from killing one another off; push them too far, however, and they can and will remember their heritage.

See also Good Is Not Soft, when a normally affable character realizes that nice won't always get things done in a situation. They can coincide, if the realization and the outrage are triggered at the same time. An Actual Pacifist subjected to the same stresses will turn into a Badass Pacifist instead (unless this becomes a Wham Episode in which pacifism is renounced.) The results are quite similar if they Madden Into Misanthropy, the difference being the new misanthrope isn't so much a violent dynamo as a care free Jerkass.

This is not to be confused with a character being a Bitch in Sheep's Clothing (or even Face of an Angel, Mind of a Demon). While the latter trope's 'nice' image is usually just a facade for their genuinely callous personality, this trope involves a genuinely nice character submitting to a rare act of malice. Repeated subjection of a nice character to this trope, though, may result in Flanderizing them to such a degree that it's impossible to tell the difference.

Can also result from being repeatedly subjected to the losing end of the Misery Poker trope when their combined traumas far outweigh any single problem another character has because of feeling like a Butt-Monkey due to their very real and legitimate problems repeatedly being ignored.

The polar opposite of Is This What Anger Feels Like?.

Comparable tropes include Let's Get Dangerous!; Crouching Moron, Hidden Badass; Minored In Ass Kicking; The So-Called Coward; and Who's Laughing Now?.

Also compare Cornered Rattlesnake, Yandere, Cute and Psycho, Killer Rabbit, Did You Think I Can't Feel?, Badass Santa, and Fighting Irish.

A This Means War! declaration may be delivered as a result of it. For a common aftermath of this trope, see Cruel Mercy.

Compare/contrast Knight Templar. Compare Beware the Quiet Ones if they are known for their silence more than their kindness. Compare Killer Rabbit for when you need to beware the cute ones. Compare Beware the Silly Ones when they're known for clowning around. Compare Silk Hiding Steel, for when you should beware the proper ones. May also act as an emotional power.

Example subpages:

Examples from media without their own pages:

  • The Gorillaz cast all have their moments, excluding resident Jerkass Murdoc. Noodle once fought off an entire zombie army alone with nothing but her Waif-Fu, and the usually cool-headed Only Sane Man Russel knocked Murdoc out cold with one blow when he tried to kill 2D. Even Extreme Doormat 2D has a limit: he lashed out at Murdoc in a recent interview after a few minutes of insult and humiliation.
  • Kenny Rogers' classic "Coward of the County". A man who'd turned his back on fighting all his life beats three men to a pulp after they rape his wife.
  • Lemon Demon's "Ultimate Showdown of Ultimate Destiny" brings together absolutely everyone in a Climactic Battle Resurrection, from Batman to Godzilla to Chuck Norris. The winner? Kindly old Mr. Rogers "in a bloodstained sweater".
  • Pearl Jam's song "Jeremy" from Ten is about this, to an extent. A quiet, drab kid with uncaring parents suddenly snaps and goes berserk, punching the narrator in the jaw and biting the recess lady's breast. Before eating a Magnum in front of everyone - not the chocolate-covered ice-cream.
  • Vocaloid Kaito ga Uninstall
  • Alice Cooper's "No More Mr. Nice Guy" is about someone a guy who does nice things for people, but no one wants to befriend him or just be around him, which prompts him to be upset and get turned mean. It is Played for Laughs, though.
  • "Sister Mary Elephant," a 1974 comedy recording by Cheech & Chong. Although the title character, a substitute teacher overseeing an unruly class, is very nice, her frustration boils over several times throughout the song as she tries to call the clearly uninterested students to order ("Class? Class? SHUDD-UUUUUUUUUUUUUUUP!!!!!!!!" "Wow, far out man.").
  • "Tai Kwan Leap," a comedy recording by the Frantics. The main character starts out preaching peace, enlightenment and how Tai Kwan Leap is strictly for self-defense - then when a mouthy student gets a little aggressive with him it's "Boot to the head."
  • "Weird Al" Yankovic's "The Night Santa Went Crazy", has the legendary jolly fat man flip his lid and go on a murdering spree, the song hinting that years of delivering gifts to kids and only getting milk and cookies for his thanks was just too much for him to handle anymore.
  • The Rolling Stones' mild-mannered, quiet and laid-back drummer Charlie Watts was often to be found in his hotel room quietly reading a book whilst Mick Jagger, Keith Richards, Brian Jones and Bill Wyman (and, later, Mick Taylor and Ronnie Wood) were living the rock-excess lifestyle. At one drunken after-gig party, Mick imperiously called Watts' hotel room, asking "Where's my drummer? I want my drummer! Bring my drummer to me!". When these words were relayed to him, Watts nodded, put down his book, showered, shaved, got dressed, and left his hotel room, saying nothing. As Jagger brayed "Ah, my drummer's here at last!", the irritated Watts laid him cold with one punch. Dragging Mick up by the lapels and eyeballing him, Watts said, simply "I'm not your fucking drummer. You are my lead singer. Right?". He then turned on his heel, went back to his room, and carried on where he's left off. He'd even thought to insert a bookmark.
  • The third English verse of New Zealand's national anthem God Defend New Zealand invokes this trope, with a declaration of striving for peace while also calling on God to make them a "mighty host" if they are invaded.
  • The Killer Inside Me by MC 900ft Jesus is about a serial killer who pretends to be a sweet, talkative, mentally disabled person to both lure people into lowering their defenses and to keep suspicion off of himself.
  • This quote from Florence Welch of Florence + the Machine sums her up pretty well:
    I’m not a very angry person in life. I’m not a very confrontational or aggressive person, I—I’m very gentle, and…and yet sometimes my music is so ferocious, and I wonder what part of myself, perhaps, I suppress in daily life that comes out in my songs that even I find scary.
  • Skinless: The music video for their song "Skull Session" focuses in on the daily life of a New-Age Retro Hippie referred to officially as "The Hippie" (the fandom nicknamed him "Hippie Jim" in tribute to the actor who played him; the band later embraced the nickname on social media). Or rather, it focuses in on that life slowly being destroyed by the band, who insist on endless, overloud rehearsals that constantly distract him at inopportune moments, causing calamity to ensue. Eventually, after a second date with a woman who had already lost her eye to one of these distractions ends badly, The Hippie goes off the deep end and pulls out an old chest from his closet. Turns out he was a late arrival to the counterculture, having first spent time fighting in Vietnam. The chest contains a variety of "momentos" from that service, including several grenades and a canister of Agent Orange. He uses the contents of the chest to attack and incapacitate the band, drags them to his garage, loads them one by one into a guillotine he built himself, and and starts pulling the switch. Too bad the Agent Orange contaminated their bloodstreams, allowing their severed heads and headless bodies alike to revive and continue the rehearsal. Seeing this, The Hippie decides to simply load himself in the guillotine and drop the blade on himself.
  • In Dean Brody's song, "Cattleman's Gun", the sheepskin-cloaked preacher of the town initially takes a pacifistic stance against the titlular Cattleman, who has been terrorizing the town as part of a bid to hold his claim on the surrounding land for grazing his cattle. The preacher even flat-out tells the townsfolk (via the chorus) that they don't stand a single chance against the Cattleman, whose undefeated skills as a gunfighter are described as a "rattlesnake on the trigger". All that changes one day when the Cattleman guns down a young farmer in front of his two sons just because the farmer publicly confronted the Cattleman over his sabotaging the man's farm, then taunts the boys as they're crying over their father's which point the preacher emerges from the church and proves to everyone that he is not at all what he seems:
    [The Farmer's] boys ran out from behind the crowd and watched their daddy die,
    The [Cattleman] laughed and said "Now look at that, anybody else wanna give it a try?"
    Well the church doors opened with that black cloak flowin' behind the preacher's fiery eyes,
    He said, "Your ticket to hell is a comin' to you, and I got a hollow point to give you the ride!"

    And the only thing faster than the Cattleman's Gun was the preacher man's hand and finger,
    He pulled iron from his side and let that bullet fly, beat the rattlesnake to the hammer!
    Why the preacher embraced forgiveness, oh, they finally understood,
    Under that sheepskin cloak of his was a history of blood...

    Myths & Religion 
  • Norse Mythology's Vanir were a race of fertility gods, who spent their days making the world flourish with plants and children... Oh, and they almost destroyed the Aesir.
  • Nymphs were usually kind and flirtatious, but piss one off and you're likely to be drowned and gutted. Or, saddled with a curse so horrible that you'll wish you were drowned and gutted.
  • Most people seem to think of Demeter as peaceful and calm, the goddess of the harvest and growth. One of the lesser known myths shows us just how awesome she can be: a king cut down her favorite tree. So she got one of her handmaidens to fetch Hunger and sicced her on the king, until he ate everything in his city, spent and sold everything he had— even his own daughter— on food that didn't fill him, and then ate himself. Not to mention the whole "If I don't get my child back, I can and will kill everything on this planet" thing.
  • There is also the fact that Hephaestus, the smith of the Gods, while nicer than the rest, is best not to anger him. More known examples include the Golden Throne incident (trapped Hera due to her throwing him out of Olympus) and the Golden Net scandal (caught Ares and Aphrodite having sex -in Hephaestus' and Aphrodite's marriage bed, no less).
  • Also among the Greeks, Dionysus was ubiquitously known as The Hedonist of the pantheon and the god of alcohol. Usually he was the Pretty Boy who spent most of his time throwing wild parties and getting into Wacky Fratboy Hijinx—but he embodied both the good AND bad sides of alcohol, and he got pretty damn vicious if you pushed him.
  • In Chinese mythology there was a guy named Yang Zhi who was trying to sell his sword. A thug named Niu Er had him describe three tests (Cutting coins without damaging the blade, cutting hair by placing the hair on the sword and blowing on it, and killing a person without staining the blade with blood). Yang Zhi carried out the first two easily and refused to do the third. Niu Er then began beating him up and calling him a liar. Yang Zhi attempted to dodge, but Niu Er was quick and strong and he rained blows on Yang Zhi. Eventually, Yang Zhi lost his temper, shouted to the crowd that Niu Er had backed him into a corner, drew his sword and cut at Niu Er once, killing him instantly. The blade had no bloodstains on it, fulfilling the third test.
  • The Bible:
    • Jesus and "the cleansing of the temple". This is a guy who was literally the poster boy for patience and forgiveness. But everybody has at least one thing that really burns them up and makes them want to break something/someone; for Jesus, it seems, it was taking advantage of poor and ignorant people in the name of God. When he saw what was going on, he just stood there, looking around and emanating so much anger that he didn't even have to raise his voice for everybody in the temple to know that some serious shit was about to go down if they didn't get out of there. He flipped over a money-changer's table, and the priests and merchants ran like hell. Some variations state that he busted out a riding crop and went to town on all the tables and stuff sold there.
      • God the Father seems to have the same Berserk Button of taking advantage of people in his name - as the only one of the Ten Commandments that openly states something along the lines of "if you do this, even God will not forgive you" is the one forbidding exactly that misuse of God's name for purposes God did not sign up for. Doing evil in God's name is a surefire way to really piss him off - so since Christianity holds that Jesus is God in Human Form, this was completely foreseeable.
    • This temple tossing was preceded by cursing a fig tree that was out of season and didn't give our Savior fruit to eat... and by the time he passed by that spot again, the tree was dead.
    • And then there's the prophesied Second Coming. The first time Jesus came, he was generally peaceful. The second time? Not so much. There's a reason he's called both the "Lamb of God" and the "Lion of Judah".
    • Many verses, especially Nahum 1:3, gives us the description that God is "slow to anger", but when evil strikes, He will stop at nothing to punish the evildoers.
    • Moses has been described as "the meekest of men". However, as many theologians have pointed out, "meek" does not meen "pushover", and when he did get angry...
  • In Hinduism Durga, the benevolent goddess of motherhood, is also portrayed as a fierce fighter and quite the Mama Bear. Kali was one of her forms, pulled out to defeat the undefeatable.
    • Ganesha is also a generally friendly god who likes scholarship and sweet foods. However, he is the son of the mentioned Durga and Shiva, the god of Destruction, and the only thing that stops him from ripping the entirety of Creation to shreds is his amiable and easygoing nature.

    Pro Wrestling 
  • Prior to his 1987 heel turn, André the Giant very much fit this trope, with many announcers referring to the big guy as a gentle giant. Whenever a heel crossed his path and used devious means to try to take him out, Andre became brutal and used his aggression to make the bad guys regret their moves. Famous examples came with Killer Khan, who was thoroughly beaten in a legendary stretcher match (the objective being to injure the opponent so severely they need to be taken out on a stretcher) at the Philadelphia Spectrum; and Big John Studd and Ken Patera (after the two knocked Andre out and cut his hair).
    • As part of the Andre-Studd feud, Andre once appeared on the WWF's Tuesday Night Titans (a takeoff of The Tonight Show) to discuss his feud with Vince McMahon. When McMahon persisted with questioning about Andre putting his career on the line vs. Studd's $15,000 at the first WrestleMania, a clearly annoyed Andre (who did his best to keep his temper and smile) grabbed McMahon by the necktie and told him he would fight the WrestleMania match on his terms before walking off the set.
    • Andre was also a Real Life example as well. He was a nice guy outside the ring, but some guys decided to try a round of Bullying a Dragon with him. Cue them being chased out of the bar and having their car flipped over with them still in it.
  • Big John Studd was another example. Heenan himself said that Studd was a guy who was "too nice for this business."
  • Often used for a Face–Heel Turn:
    • When Bob Backlund made his early '90s return to WWE, he was portrayed as a nice older guy who loved to compete and served as a mentor to the younger wrestlers on the roster — right up until he snapped, putting Bret Hart in the crossface chicken-wing out of jealousy, and becoming an uber-reactionary psychopath. Incidentally, if a heel wrestler got Backlund angry enough, he showed that he could be perfectly willing to throw out the rulebook to teach him a lesson.
    • WWE owner Vince McMahon's evolution from goofy good-guy announcer to maniacally lecherous and evilly manipulative corporate boss following the Montreal Screwjob (see Dropped a Bridge on Him) is another good example, also an example of Real Life Writes the Plot.
    • Though sometimes the face doesn't turn heel, they just reveal that they Took a Level in Badass. The Undertaker is particularly adept at this.
  • Mankind, especially post-Socko was a loveable underdog who would shower you with gifts as a friend and as an enemy would at least give a stern talking to before beating you up. However when Mick Foley is pushed too far to fight as Mankind (as Triple H soon found out, twice), he'll switch from Mrs. Foley's baby boy to The King of the Deathmatch, Cactus Jack. Since his semi-retirement, Mick Foley has generally been a goofball cracking lame jokes. The few people who have truly pushed him, though, are reminded just why he's called the Hardcore Legend.
  • John Cena can typically be counted on to be a guy who's pretty calm and relaxed and willing to joke around and playfully mock his opponents, and when competing in fair fights will still find plenty of time to have fun. Piss him off a little too much, though, and he'll start doing things like throwing around 500-pound men, ripping pipes out of the machinery and taking them to someone's face, and trying to run people down with forklifts. He also once dropped 25 CHAIRS on (a table covering) Wade Barrett. And that's just physical harm. When he's given a Hannibal Lecture by The Miz and R-Truth, what does he do? Nothing except turn it against them into a "The Reason You Suck" Speech that's so powerful, it made them fight one another.
  • Kofi Kingston is a pretty level-headed guy who is often seen with a smile, but if you push him over the edge, he'll hit back hard. On the 10/26/2009 edition of Raw, after losing the WWE World Heavyweight Championship in an Iron Man match to John Cena the previous night at Bragging Rights, a livid Randy Orton ambushed Kofi, claiming he was the reason he lost, with Kofi clearing Orton's Legacy teammates out of the ring, after getting blamed by them for costing team Raw the 7-on-7 tag team match. A little later, Orton's Legacy teammates, Cody Rhodes and Ted DiBiase Jr., tried to calm him down with a custom NASCAR car. Soon after that, while Legacy was in the ring, Kofi broadcasted himself on the titantron as he defaced Orton's car, his face alternating from mischievous glee to uncharacteristic anger. It got worse in the following weeks. Ted Dibiase wouldn't learn from this and let history repeat, as did Dolph Ziggler.
  • Jimmy Jacobs. Who would have thought the same person who wore furry boots and played a giant for laughs would turn out to be a complete psychopath who would hang a bleeding Jay Briscoe from the ceiling and shower in his blood?
  • Melina Perez (fits it more as a Face than when she's heel) walks down the ramp smiling and waving to the fans, but when the bell rings she is an aggressive screamer who goes to the limit.
  • For a good face example, look at Eve Torres. Sweet, happy girl who looks so much like Wonder Woman it's a surprise DC didn't threatened a lawsuit. However, if you push her one inch too far, she will put her Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu training to good use and will snap you into several little pieces. Check out her "The Reason You Suck" Speech to The Miz and her attempts to climb over Michael Cole's "Cole Mine" after he dumps on her matches a little too much. Similar things could be said of Natalya, Beth Phoenix, and Gail Kim.
  • While still serving as a color commentator, Daffney gave this ominous warning regarding Su Yung. Unfortunately, what some people take as a "warning", Sweet Saraya took as an invitation and deliberately pushed Yung over the edge, the result being the Undead Brideswoman she became.
  • A.J. Lee. Where other divas take home victories with schoolgirl roll-ups she breaks out the Shining Wizards or Sliced Bread #2. From a 100 pound girl, that is pretty unusual. And because Daniel Bryan couldn't appreciate her love for him and continued to demean her and blame her for his loss at WrestleMania, she's now the proverbial crazy chick. She has no problem putting her love interests through tables (just ask CM Punk and Daniel Bryan) or knocking them off ladders (ask John Cena). If you make AJ mad at you, prepare to suffer.
  • Over on NXT, Johnny Gargano is one of the swellest guys you can meet, being a very hardened Determinator and a loving husband. However, as his early 2018 TakeOver matches against former friend and tag-team partner Tommaso Ciampa have shown, even NXT's biggest babyface has his limits. After losing a Loser Leaves NXT match against Andrade "Cien" Almas thanks to interference by Ciampa, Johnny spent the weeks leading up to NXT TakeOver: New Orleans stalking his old friend, attacking him at any given opportunity and requiring officials to restrain him. It came to a head during their Street Fight at NXT TakeOver: Chicago (almost a year removed from Ciampa's betrayal of Gargano and in the same arena) when Gargano delivered a No-Holds-Barred Beatdown at several opportunities, including slamming him through two tables after Ciampa removed Gargano's wedding ring AND spat on it, as well as handcuffing his opponent and delivering several superkicks to Ciampa. This kind of behavior would be unheard of for a normally clean babyface, but after everything the guy has been through, can you really blame him?
  • When Alexa Bliss started off in NXT, it was as an always smiling cheerleader/fairy character that blew glitter around. After being taken for granted and continually overlooked because of her short stature (5'0'') and relative inexperience in the ring, she snapped and unleashed her inner demons. Four years later, she's a five time champion and the undisputed master manipulator of WWE's women roster. She WILL find your weakness and she WILL exploit it.
  • Rey Mysterio Jr. is a hero to the core and a Friend to All Children, but hurting his family is one way for him to unleash his aggressive side. CM Punk and Brock Lesnar has learned this the hard way. His feud with his son Dominik didn't become personal until after his son began mouthing off to his mom, and Rey's wife, Angie. Rey decides to finally deck Dominik and screams that his son made him hit the boy.

  • Which Witch The Musical: When Daniel ends the relationship with Maria, she becomes pissed and tells him she wishes he had died instead.

Alternative Title(s): Beware Of The Nice Ones


Why Dr. Forrester is So Sick

Back when Pearl's originally going to be a guest character in Season 6's "Bloodlust!", The first thing she does is hang with Frank more than her own son, something that even Gypsy is very appalled at.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (5 votes)

Example of:

Main / WitchWithACapitalB

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