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Bully Magnet

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Hey, wait a minute. I can't defend everything I did back in junior high, I mean who can? But let's face it, when you show up at school wearing a tweed blazer with elbow patches and carrying a valise, I mean, I think the guilt here is fifty-fifty.
Danny Kreasel to Niles Crane, Frasier
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The High School/Junior High Chew Toy.

We know Kids Are Cruel at times, but unfortunately for some kids, they're more susceptible to being picked on, teased and bullied. It could be how they dress, how they act, how they look, and possibly for bad actions in the past. In any case, it's only them that's singled out. The Bully or a Gang of Bullies makes their school days a living hell. Their days at school are filled with wedgies, being stuffed in lockers, being subjected to cruel gossip and even worse. These characters usually project meekness and timidness which makes it easier for them to be targeted.

Played for Laughs, this could lead to some funny gags. But when Played for Drama, the character's plight will make you cringe as well as cry. This character isn't the Cool Loser, that's usually saved for the protagonist who will more often than not befriend the Bully Magnet out of the kindness of their hearts.

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The Bully Magnet is usually a geek, nerd, or a loner (oftentimes a boy) and on the bottom of the Popularity Food Chain. A favorite target of the Jerk Jock or Alpha Bitch.

Also see to All of the Other Reindeer for characters outcast out of other settings other than a school one/between children and usually applied to The Hero or the villain.

Sadly, this is Truth in Television for people who were bullied in the past. This is a delicate topic for some, so try to avoid Victim-Blaming.


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Examples:

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    Anime & Manga 
  • Accel World: Haruyuki Arita (Silver Crow) hasn't known a day of Junior High yet where he hasn't been bullied or threatened by the school tough Aria and his gang. It does not help that Haru actively cuts off any outside support from his friends to deal with the problem out of shame for not being able to himself. It's a sign of his character progression when Nomi tries to put him back in this situation that he doesn't just lie down and take it.
  • As shown in the example image, Tomoki/Tommy from Digimon Frontier is bullied into the train to the Digital World by two older boys when we first meet him. It's indicated that it's due to him being Prone to Tears, and throughout the anime he becomes braver and even saves his two bullies from danger.
  • Doraemon: This is a huge part of Nobita's role as a Failure Hero. Him being bullied (both physically and emotionally) by Gian and Suneo provides the plot of roughly 70% of the episodes, but he still hangs out with them. Sometimes the other kids of the baseball team join in with bullying him as well.
  • Being born with the Zodiac curse seems to doom this for Sohma family members with more unusual natural hair colors in Fruits Basket. In particular, poor Kisa briefly stopped going to school because her classmates just wouldn't stop ignoring/laughing at her.
  • The Love And Creed Of Sae Maki: Misao is shy and unpopular even after a month in her new school, as such she's picked on by classmates.
  • My Hero Academia: It's established at the very beginning that Izuku Midoriya was bullied for ten years straight by his classmates (with Katsuki Bakugo being the most relentless) because he is Quirkless and the teachers allowed it because of Fantastic Racism. Once he got a Quirk and made it to U.A., this disappeared.
  • My Next Life as a Villainess: All Routes Lead to Doom!:
  • Sonic X: While this is usually an aspect of Tails's backstory before he met Sonic, actually provided a flashback where the audience gets to see some of the other kids breaking Tails' stuff.

    Comic Books 
  • Spider-Man: Peter Parker is somewhat of an iconic case, as being bullied by Flash Thompson is such a core aspect of his character it's been represented in every adaptation, which is funny since he grew out of it in the 60s. However, even though he's long left high school, he's shown to still be greatly affected by it, as it stifles his confidence and is a major reason he's a Clueless Chick Magnet.
    • Mary Jane Watson is also shown to have been this in school too, albeit for different reasons. While Peter was bullied for being a shy introverted geek, MJ was pretty and the target of many boys' (unwanted) attention, which resulted in frequent Slut-Shaming from other girls. Her experiences are even mirrored with Peter's in Parallel Lives, with sequences of them both walking home in tears because of what they'd gone through are positioned together to illustrate how they're similar.
  • Jessica Jones: Established as this in her backstory, where she actually went to the same school as Peter, but was even more unpopular than he was. She was very nerdy looking, even moreso than Peter, kept to herself, was extremely antisocial, and also was the sole-survivor of a car accident that killed the rest of her family and left her in a coma for several months. When she woke up, kids called her "Coma Girl." She was so unpopular, as adults Peter genuinely didn't remember her.
  • Iron Man: A few comics have indicated Tony was this in his youth, going on the basis that his intelligence made him a target. Matt Fraction's run actually revealed this is directly what lead to his alcoholism; Tony used access to his father's alcohol collection to basically bribe popularity from people, who were happy to stop bullying him in exchange for regularly partying in his home. When he couldn't provide alcohol for one party, it was made abundantly clear he didn't have any real friends, which sent him into so much self loathing he became dependant on alcohol from then on.
  • Batman: Jonathan Crane is shown to have been this in his Start of Darkness due to being a shy lanky bookworm (and in the case of the "Year One" continuity being a literal bastard in the Bible Belt doesn't help). In one post-Crisis version of his origins, he snaps after one Prank Date and more or less sets his path on becoming The Scarecrow from there by killing/crippling two of his worst tormentors a la Carrie.

    Fanfic 
  • In Infinity Train: Blossoming Trail: Chloe Cerise is bullied by her entire class because she's seen as a Creepy Loner Girl for liking macabre stories and demons and not the "norm" that is Pokémon and girly stuff, not to mention her dad being a Pokémon Professor which is equated to "Easy path to being a trainer" (the irony being that it's her friend Goh who gets everything but he's getting away with it since he only goes to school for tests). It's later revealed that Alpha Bitch Sara did this because she was jealous of Chloe and spun tales of Chloe being a jerk and the foolish Class 5-E (who were all implied to be angry that they can't be Trainers) joined in and the rest is history.
  • Downplayed with Cameron from Jessica after his mother dies. He is a grieving boy who likes to play Pokémon, and thus an obvious target for bullies, but there's only one instance of the bullying impacting his life. Unfortunately, it results in his destroying his Pokémon Yellow cartridge in a fit of rage.

    Film — Animation 
  • Theodore is apparently having this problem in Alvin and the Chipmunks Meet the Wolfman. That Alvin will actively run interference for his little brother is one of the few good things the school principal has to say about him.
  • In Shrek the Third, Arthur Pendragon is introduced as the least popular student in his school, so low on the social-ladder that even the nerds bully him.

    Film — Live-Action 
  • Back to the Future: Marty McFly finds that in 1955, his father George was bullied by Biff Tannen just like in 1985, but what establishes how lowly George was back then is that his classmates picked on him, too, as Marty notices him walking around the school with a "Kick Me" sign on his back and other people happily kicking him.
  • North Country: Even before Josey filed the class action lawsuit, she would received verbal and physical abuse from every man except for Kyle and Bill and was treated as a pariah in her own hometown.
  • In the movie Little (2019), it was revealed in the beginning that Jordan was an easy target for bullying in middle school because of her love of science and how she looked. The film actually deconstructs this, as this was what led to Jordan acting like a raging asshole to not only her employees, but to almost everyone she meets. She becomes this again when she's magically aged back into a middle schooler and the kids bully her for her natural hair and clothes.
  • In the movie Ted, the main character John Bennett was an easy target for bullies. Even the other bullied kids didn’t like him and joined in on the bullying.

    Literature 
  • Tobias of Animorphs was this at the beginning of the series, in fact the first time Jake met Tobias was when two bullies were giving him a swirlie. It's never made clear why Tobias was bullied so harshly but he was a meek, timid kid before getting involved in the interstellar war and going through serious Character Development.
  • Linda Fischer of Blubber is picked on due to her weight (even though it's indicated she isn't even the biggest kid in the school), and this gradually escalates to the point where she's physically and emotionally tormented on the regular.
  • Brian Bund of Geography Club, both the book and movie. He is described as gangly and awkward and is regularly tormented by the jocks. Later, after Russel is seemingly outed at school, Brian takes the steps to submit an application for a gay-straight alliance to take the heat off Russell, showing he's still a stand up guy.
  • Harry Potter:
    • In the first book, it's briefly mentioned that Harry was this trope at the Muggle school he attended before Hogwarts. His situation largely improves when he gets to Hogwarts, but then he gets the ire of Draco and Snape, his teacher.
    • Snape himself was unpopular at school when he was younger, and the victim of many students, including Harry's own father.
  • Goosebumps:
    • Gary Lutz of Why I'm Afraid of Bees, an awkward nerd who gets beaten up by bullies on the regular.
    • Ricky Beamer from Calling All Creeps. With all the bullying he goes through, nobody note  is surprised when he snaps and joins the Creeps' Assimilation Plot that enslaves the whole school by turning them into Creeps.
  • Carrie White from Carrie has been a regular target of bullying through her school days, as well as subjected to abuse by her religious fanatic mother. The whole thing comes to a head during the senior prom, when she gets a bucket of pig blood dumped on her and she proceeds to snap and unleash her telekinetic powers, which she had kept a careful secret, upon her school and her town.
  • Ben Hanscom from It, in the book series and both films. He's a tubby, shy bookish kid and he gets bullied heavily, including Henry Bowers who cuts an "H" into his stomach with a knife. He grows out of this when he gets older and gains much more confidence and loses a lot of weight. Beverly Marsh is a Bully Magnet too due to her reputation, but to a much lesser extent as she doesn't let it bother her.
  • Worm: Taylor Hebert was relentlessly bullied through several years by an Alpha Bitch posse led by Sophia Hess because Hebert, not wishing to fight back against the bullying, was designated by Hess as "prey" (she follows a very animalistic version of The Social Darwinist philosophy). Because of various reasons (but that can all be placed under a very grim example of "Adults Are Useless") Hebert was left to try to bear it alone... until the day she got a borderline Deadly Prank and this led to her Trigger Event.
  • Ti Prendo e ti Porto Via: Pietro is a scrawny, shy loner and the favorite target of his class's Gang of Bullies.

    Live-Action TV 
  • 13 Reasons Why: Tyler Down, a geeky awkward teenager. He was already low on the totem pole at school due to his perceived creepiness towards girls, but his possible culpability in Hannah Baker's death and later having a nude photo of him circulate around the school makes his situation worse. In season two, he starts acting out and is sent to a camp for teens with behavioral issues and comes back a lot more mellow. And then he is attacked in the school's bathroom and then brutally raped with a mop handle.
  • The Big Bang Theory: All four the main nerds claim they spent most of their lives being bullied.
    Leonard: There's this guy, Jimmy Speckerman, who used to torment me in high school.
    Sheldon: Is this the fellow who peed in your Hawaiian Punch?
    Leonard: No, that was a different guy.
    Sheldon: Was he the one who wedgied you so hard, your testicle reascended, and you spent your whole Christmas break waiting for it to come back down?
    Leonard: No, that was a different, different guy.
    Sheldon: Was he the one who used your head to open a nut?
    Leonard: No.
    Sheldon: Oh, oh, oh. Was he the one who made you eat your arm hair?
    Leonard: No, but, actually, that was this guy's sister.
  • Boardwalk Empire: In one episode, Al Capone finds out while conversing with his wife over dinner that his son is one of these at school. To make things worse, the poor kid is deaf and when Capone asks what kind of kid would be so low as to bully a deaf kid, his wife reminds him that their son goes to a special school for the deaf and all the other kids are similarly disabled — they are just plain assholes.
  • Degrassi: The Next Generation:
    • Rick Murray, though initially he was ostracized from the student body for a good reason - his abuse of his girlfriend ended up putting her in a coma and sent away to another school. When he comes back to school after undergoing therapy, he is Reformed, but Rejected and bullied heavily under the guise of making the school safe. After a particularly cruel public prank, he does get a few apologies tossed towards him. But due to a tragic misunderstanding, he does end up bringing a gun to school and shoots a student and ends up accidentally shooting himself.
    • Irene who only appeared in the 14th season was picked on a lot by the girls of the cheerleading squad, but good girl Frankie ends up befriending her.
  • Everybody Hates Chris: The titular character is bullied and antagonized by the majority of the school it seems, due to being the only black student. For example, "Everybody Hates Caruso" has the episode's titular school bully step down after getting a beatdown for a former victim. This prompts nearly the entire student body to fill in for school bully, with Chris being a prime target.
  • Family Matters: Steve Urkel gets this because he is an annoying Extraverted Nerd. The episodes where he is antagonized by the Jerk Jock or school bully of the week (who is different in every episode) are too many to count. And when he is asked to supervise an English class for his absent teacher, he is bullied by the entire class.
  • Frasier: Niles confronts his former Junior High school bully, Danny Kreasel. Danny expresses regret over his past actions, but points out in his defense that Niles showed up to school in a tweed blazer with elbow patches carrying a valise.
  • The George Lopez Show: This is Invoked by George and Carmen in one episode when they try to deal with Max constantly being beat up at school. George believes it's because of Angie teaching him that "bullies are friends who don't know how special you are", which George justifiably believes is guaranteed to get one's ass kicked if spoken out loud. Carmen is convinced it's because Angie still buys him nerdy clothes instead of cool clothes.

    Music 
  • Tears for Fears: In the song "The Hurting", the narrator is severely depressed because (among other things) he's ridiculed by a bully, and he compares it to a nightmare.
    Is it an horrific dream?
    Am I sinking fast?
    Could a person be so mean
    As to laugh and laugh?

    Video Games 
  • The entire nerd clique from Bully gets pushed around by every other clique at the school. Pete Kowalski is one as well, as he belongs to no clique and he deals with abuse even from his "friend" Gary.
  • Mikan Tsumiki from Danganronpa 2: Goodbye Despair is an Extreme Doormat who spends most of her life apologizing for her very existence and even puts off those attempting to be nice to her with her creepy, clingy behavior. As a result she's mercilessly bullied, to the point where she's started to view being abused as the closest she can get to affection and even welcoming and encouraging it to some degree.

    Webcomics 
  • Sticky Dilly Buns: One strip implies that the nerdy, introverted Ruby was something of a bully magnet in her schooldays, leading her to cut herself off from much human interaction. Like a lot of people of this type, she discovers that the big wide world sucks less than high school.
  • Weak Hero:
    • Eugene spent most of middle school as part of the 'bread shuttle', with all of the bullying that entails. When he enters Eunjang High, his goal is to be as quiet as possible so that he won't be targeted again. Given that it's Eunjang High, however, he still ends up a victim until he learns to toughen up.
    • Gray attracts the attention of bullies due to the combination of his sickly physique and arrogant attitude. Any bully who tries to put him in his place is very quick to learn that crossing Gray is a terrible idea.

    Western Animation 
  • Danny Phantom:
    • Danny Fenton getting it from the school's Jerk Jock and his friends and being looked down by the popular girls and boys.
    • One-off villain Sidney Poindexter, the ghost of a former student from Casper high who is legendary for the amount of bullying he endured in life. It was to the point that the principal had the rest of the students bully him as a requirement to graduate. He presently haunts the same locker he had in life (now Danny's) which is a portal that leads a ghostly version of Casper High where he relives his school life.
  • The Fairly Oddparents:
    • Timmy Turner. His babysitter Vicky, the bully Francis, and even his teacher Mr. Crocker like to torment him more than everyone else. Parodied in "Deja Vu", where Timmy manages to scare off his bully Francis, making him technically the school's bully by default. Unfortunately, that makes him an instant target from the bullies of other schools, who all line up to take him.
    • Cosmo in high school was not only bullied by the resident Jerk Jock, but was also so pathetic even his school's math club joined in the harassment.
  • Family Guy: Meg gets this at school from the Alpha Bitch and other students, and even at home from her own family, for no apparent reason aside from being "ugly" and unpopular. The one episode in which she tries to stop her family's bullying, she ends up having to sit back and take it because unless she's the "lightning rod" to the Griffins' unrelenting horribleness, the family will literally tear itself apart by bullying each other.
  • Phineas and Ferb: Baljeet, a Bollywood Nerd, is the favorite target of Buford the bully, to the point that Baljeet finding another bully to pick on him is treated like a break-up complete with “reconciliation” at the end. (As Characterization Marches On, they become more like Vitriolic Best Buds.)
  • The Proud Family
    • Deconstruction in an episode when Michael was a target of bullying due to him being Camp Straight. He ends up getting fed up and rages at his tormentors.
    • Averted with Oscar, as he is just a victim of slapstick and bad luck. You would think Oscar was this in his middle and high school days, but he was the one who was the bully.
  • Recess: Gus Griswald is the new kid and is immediately on the low pecking order until he finds refuge with a group of the other main characters, but even then sometimes he gets bullied. For example, when Barbaric Bully Gelman's previous target moves away, he immediately singles out Gus as his new target.
  • The Simpsons:
    • Lisa Simpson, in the occasional episode where she is target of bullying, has been the recipient of multiple reasons: because she is a nerd, because she doesn't follows the clique rules of other girl students, because she is not as pretty as the rest, because she's a blonde and the bully's initial assumption is that she is a Dumb Blonde, because she is a Soapbox Sadie and somebody got fed up with it... in one episode she even tries to discover what makes a bully constantly beat her up and she discovers that bullies are a Human Subspecies who have a natural drive to attack people who give off certain pheromones (like nerds).
    • Milhouse and Martin get it worse, as they are the favorite targets of Nelson and the Gang of Bullies Jimbo, Dolph and Kearney.
    • Bart is also a frequent target of bullying, though that depends on how popular is he in that episode.
  • Static Shock: Deconstruction in the Very Special Episode "Jimmy". The character Jimmy was an easy target of bullying. He got so fed up that he brought a gun to school. Unfortunately, Jimmy has to spend months in juvy because victim or not, he still broke the law by bringing a gun to school.

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