Follow TV Tropes

Following

Bully Turned Buddy

Go To

https://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/bully_turned_buddy_page_image.png
Bullies. They're mean, they're rude, and in fiction, they're everywhere. For the character being bullied, it can usually feel like them and their bully will be bitter enemies until the end, and that they will look back and think only of the pain they were put through as a child.
Advertisement:

And yet, bullies are people, too. With little exception, most of them are just as capable of feeling love and camaraderie as anybody else. While this can usually manifest in a Loving Bully, a Gang of Bullies or even a Girl Posse, occasionally the bully will find friendship somewhere else- and become close friends with the very person who used to be their victim.

The reasons for this can vary. The bully could've been sympathetic all along, and the kind-hearted protagonist is willing to forgive them after they learn more about them. The bully could've also just been a dumb kid; Kids Are Cruel, after all, and people grow up. There could be a scene of the victim finally Challenging the Bully, and winning, with Defeat Means Friendship happening in full-force. Or, they just end up bonding, and the hero learns their bully is actually a Jerk with a Heart of Gold, Lovable Alpha Bitch, or Defrosting Ice Queen.

Advertisement:

Whatever the cause, though, this scenario ends with the hero and their bully becoming good friends, despite the odds. Their friendship becomes stronger than could ever be expected at the start, even if that just means they're on friendly terms rather than mortal enemies.

Overlapping sister-trope with Reformed Bully; while many cases of this trope are Reformed Bullies, not every Reformed Bully becomes the hero's friend, and not every bully that befriends the hero is so quick to give up their bullying ways for good. It may also overlap with Bully and Wimp Pairing or Cool Kid-and-Loser Friendship. Compare Fire-Forged Friends, Friendly Rival, and Loner-Turned-Friend. Can overlap with Jerk-to-Nice-Guy Plot. Contrast with Former Friend of Alpha Bitch, Jerkass to One, and Schoolyard Bully All Grown Up, where the bully never changes out of their cruel ways. When it's friends who sometimes act like bullies, that's Vitriolic Best Buds or With Friends Like These...

Advertisement:


Examples:

    open/close all folders 

    Anime & Manga 
  • In Birdmen, Kamoda used to be a part of a gang that bullied Karasuma when they were in elementary school. But after Karasuma set up a big Batman Gambit to stop the bullying, Kamoda got so impressed he became his friend. Afterwards, the other bullies then turned their attention to Kamoda, but Karasuma pulled another gambit to stop it, and they've been best friends ever since.
  • In Cross Ange, Hilda is the leader of a group that (tries to) bully Ange. After escaping from Arzenal and going through a Trauma Conga Line together, the two of them become first reluctant allies and then Fire-Forged Friends (and then Hilda falls head over heels for Ange).
  • Dragon Ball: Krillin starts out as a bully to Goku. After going through Training from Hell together, they become best friends.
  • Hajime no Ippo: Masahiko Umezawa began the series as Ippo's bully and tormentor at school. After Ippo begins to take boxing lessons, Umezawa undergoes a Heel Realization and begins to respect Ippo's perseverance and quickly becomes Ippo's number 1 fan.
  • The Lyrical Nanoha franchise has Nanoha's Childhood Friends Arisa and Suzuka, the former having bullied the latter until Nanoha slapped that attitude out of her. They're basically inseparable by the time the series starts, and supplemental material shows that their friendship is still going strong ten years later in college.
  • In My Hero Academia, Katsuki Bakugo has tormented and ostracized Izuku Midoriya ever since they discovered Midoriya was Quirkless. This animosity pervades their relationship even as Midoriya tries to mend the bridge. Only after they brawled after Bakugo deduces that Midoriya got his Quirk from All Might do they come to a mutual understanding and become closer to Friendly Rivals. Even then, Bakugo continues to call Midoriya "Deku" (not that he minds anymore) and remains coarse with him.
  • In Neon Genesis Evangelion, Toji introduces himself to Shinji by beating him up because his sister was badly injured as collateral damage when Shinji fought the Angel Sachiel in the first episode. After Shinji saves Toji and Kensuke from Shamshel, during which time Toji sees the strain Shinji's life as a pilot puts on him, he feels bad about his earlier behavior and eventually asks Shinji to punch him back so they can be even for the earlier incident. From that point out, they are friends.
  • In A Silent Voice Shoya becomes this to Shoko after the time skip.
  • Wandering Son: Throughout elementary and middle school, Doi and Oka bullied Nitori for being girly. When they're put in the same all-boys school, they become reluctant friends.
  • Flashbacks show that Jonouchi/Joey of YuGiOh used to terrorize poor Yugi alongside his friend Honda/Tristan, even throwing the Millennium Puzzle in the school pool at one point. But then Yugi protects the two of them from a bully themselves, finding himself on the receiving end of a brutal thrashing for his troubles. This acted as an epiphany: as of present time, the two of them are Yugi's friends, and Joey/Jonouchi in particular would do anything for him.
  • In Yuri!!! on Ice, Takeshi Nishigori was a bit of a bully towards main character Yuri Katsuki when they were kids. He mellowed out over time and is now one of Yuri's closest friends.

    Comic Books 
  • Spider-Man has Flash Thompson as a famous example. While Flash was Peter's high school bully, he mellowed out considerably in college and especially when he returned from enlistment, gradually becoming one of Peter's closest friends such as when they taught at their old high school. Peter himself mourns him when Flash, as Agent Anti-Venom, gives his life to save Peter and he calls him his hero.

    Comic Strips 
  • Funky Winkerbean: During the original timeline, when the main cast was in high school, Bull Buchman torments main protagonist Les Moore. By midway through the first time jump, sometime in the mid-1990s, they are colleagues and have become friends.

    Films — Animation 
  • Sunset Shimmer of Equestria Girls starts off as an Alpha Bitch par excellence, ruling Canterlot High with an iron fist and bullying the Humane Five. One Painful Transformation and subsequent Heart Beat-Down later, Sunset Shimmer pulls a Heel–Face Turn and befriends the Humane Five, becoming their equivalent to Twilight Sparkle.
  • Brent Mc Hale in Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs starts out as a bully toward Flint, but eventually they become friends. In the sequel, Chester V uses a Chinese proverb to convince Flint that he could never be his friend since he was a bully which makes Flint question his friendship with him, but Sam sets it straight with another Chinese proverb.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • In 21 Jump Street, Jenko used to be a popular jock, who picked on the unpopular nerd, Schmidt. However, then they both ended up at the Police Academy together, became partners, and then best friends by the time the plot begins.
  • Played With in the "improved" timeline of Back to the Future (the one where George is a successful writer and Dave works in an office), Biff is on friendly terms with George, following George standing up to him back in 1955.
  • In Cool Hand Luke, the relationship between Luke (Paul Newman) and boss prisoner Dragline (George Kennedy) becomes this. Luke is forced into a fight with the much stronger prison bully, who shames him in front of a crowd by refusing to fall down and take his beating. After this Dragline's new respect turns into friendship.
  • In I Love You, Beth Cooper, valedictorian Denis confesses his love for the popular cheerleader in his graduating speech, as well as insulting all the people he never liked — including the school bully, who Denis claims that he was probably neglected or sexually abused by his parents as a child, which is why the bully has rage issues. Luckily, when Denis is chased by Beth's angry boyfriend (another victim of Denis' speech) much later, the bully admits that Denis was right, apologizes for the stress and trouble he's caused everyone over the years, and doesn't hesitate to try and beat up the angry boyfriend while Denis and his friends try and escape. It is implied that they are on close terms after the events of the film.
  • Barry in Sing Street is the standard school bully who's giving Conor a hard time. Later on, though, he joins Conor as a roadie for his band and they become buddies.
  • Sky High (2005): Warren Peace is initially set up as Will's Arch-Enemy in the titular school, being an aloof jerk whose supervillain dad was taken down by Will's. However, his softer side comes out over the course of the film, and he ultimately teams up with Will to defeat the Big Bad, becoming friends with him in the process.
  • 13 Going on 30: Seventeen years into the future, Jenna learns that former Alpha Bitch of her school (who played a mean prank on her just recently) Lucy is now her best friend. However, Jenna has become a jerk over the years, and it's later revealed that both she and Lucy have been working against the fashion company they've been working for.

    Literature 
  • Harry Potter
    • Downplayed with Hermione Granger. While not a 'bully' per se, she does antagonize Ron and Harry a few times through being a stickler for the rules and an Insufferable Genius; she and Ron in particular are initially rather abrasive toward each other. But when a mountain troll puts Hermione in danger, Ron and Harry help her fight it off, marking the beginning of their friendship. Through the rest of the series Hermione is a member of the team, and ends up marrying Ron at series' end.
    • A straighter example with Dudley Dursley, Harry's bullying cousin. He spends the first five books being nothing but mean to Harry, but then Harry saves his very soul from a Dementor, which Dudley is very grateful for, even if he has a hard time showing it at first. And on top of all that, the Dementor effectively Mind Rapes Dudley into realizing that he's a spoiled, cruel bully. It takes him another two books, but he marks his final appearance giving Harry a handshake. They remain on civil terms from then on.
  • In Ranger's Apprentice, Horace bullied Will throughout childhood, but after Horace experiences bullying himself at Battleschool and the two get through a few dangerous situations together they become Heterosexual Life-Partners.
  • Mentioned in Salem’s Lot; Mark recalls that at a previous school he went to, a bully that he won a fight against declared to the other students that he and Mark were "buds".
  • A Song of Ice and Fire showed a couple of examples.
    • Grenn the watchman tried to antagonize Jon Snow for his arrogance at first (Jon isn't exactly victim material, so Grenn never was an actual bully to him, but he tried). After Jon stopped being an elitist prick around his fellow recruits, he and Grenn became friends.
    • Later, Sam Tarly, the perfect victim material, appeared in the Watch, and some of the Watchmen tried to bully him. Jon protected him and made sure Sam could make friends in the Watch.
  • Warrior Cats: When Firepaw first joined ThunderClan, he and his friends were being constantly bullied by the older apprentices, Sandpaw and Dustpaw. This continued even after being granted his Warrior name; however, one day in battle Fireheart saved Sandpaw from a death she didn't realize was coming, and this moment made her warm up to him. From then on, they were close friends...and eventually, after Sandpaw became Sandstorm and Fireheart became Firestar, they became mates as well. As for Dustpaw / Dustpelt, he eventually became a loyal, if distant, warrior as well.
  • In The Footfalls Of Chess Horses by Vladislav Krapivin, Vashek, along with the rest of his class, plagues the life of Bully Magnet Tyupa (an awkward, fat boy from a dysfunctional family who barely scrapes enough grades to stay at school at all). But then, as Vashek gets a little brother by adoption (with serious physical and mental health problems) and goes through serious Character Development, he also begins to protect Tyupa and slowly ends up one of his best friends.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Played With on Awkward.: After an entire high-school career of being bullied by Sadie, she and Tamara ended up running into each other after college...and became best friends, closer than Tamara and Jenna were. However, this doesn't last forever, as Tamara eventually realizes that Sadie is the same mean person she was in high-school, and breaks their friendship off.
  • Played With in The Big Bang Theory's 'The Speckerman Recurrence.' Leonard's former high school bully tracks him down. Leonard thinks he might be there to apologize for his bullying ways, but it turns out that the bully has an idea for an invention that he wants Leonard's help with. The bully doesn't even realize that what he had done to Leonard was bullying, he is under the impression that they were just playing around.
  • Meyer Lansky describes his initial meeting and friendship with Lucky Luciano this way in Boardwalk Empire. Lucky was a bully running with a gang already, and Meyer was a poor immigrant kid living nearby. Lucky attempted to bully Meyer, only for Meyer to refuse to give in to him, despite getting a couple of beatings for it. After several such occasions, Lucky became impressed with Meyer's guts and invited him to join Lucky's gang. The two then went on to become lifelong friends and business partners.
    Meyer Lansky: One day on my way to school, I got stopped by a gang of older boys. The leader said he wanted my lunch money. I told him to go fuck himself. He laughed, said he'd beat it out of me. So I spit in his face. He did beat me, they all did, and they took my money. Next day, same thing. Again I spit in his face, again we fought. But the third day? The kid asked me to join his gang. He was Charlie Luciano, and that's how we teamed up.
  • In Freaks and Geeks Allan has a My God, What Have I Done? moment after he nearly kills Bill by putting peanuts in his food (which Bill is severely allergic to), and visits him in the hospital where he confesses to Bill that he antagonized him and his friends because he himself had many things in common; Bill, in turn, invites him to a Sci-Fi convention he's going to with Neal, Sam, and Gordon. Allan ultimately backs out of going with them to the convention, but stops antagonizing the Geeks in subsequent episodes (and even goes as far as saying that Bill's "the man" when he talks back to Coach Fredericks).
  • House of Anubis: Patricia relentlessly tormented Nina when she first arrived at the school, on the assumption that Nina was responsible for her friend's disappearance. But Nina was willing to forgive her once Patricia began to cool down, and by the end of season one, they'd become very close friends and loyal Sibuna members.
  • In season 1 of One Tree Hill Nathan bullies Lucas and all of his friends. By season 10, the entire group is very close-knit and Nathan has to be reminded that Mouth got his nickname when they were kids because Nathan told him he had a big mouth and punched him in it. Nathan doesn't remember doing this and is genuinely apologetic.
  • On Royal Pains, Hank has repeatedly found himself treating his childhood nemesis Ken, which has led them to almost becoming friends.
  • Iron Fist (2017): When they were children, Ward bullied Danny. In season 1, when the long-lost adult Danny returns, Ward doesn't seem to think their relationship was that antagonistic, and by the time season 2 starts, they've become close friends.
  • Northern Rescue: All three of the West kids have character relationships that at least feel like this. Taylor spends a lot of the first season feuding with two spelling bee rivals, Stacey (who accuses her oc cheating and posts an embarrassing video of her online) and her friend and defender Raji, but eventually becomes fairly friendly with at least Raji after a spell-off. Downplayed with her sister Maddie and her friend Gwen insult each other the first few times they meet, but its less bullying and more confrontational on both girls part and they're getting along ok by the end of their first episode. Scout's wrestling team rival Jason is the most bullying of the three and while he and Scout get on better terms as the show progresses they also have a less friendly relationship compared to the other two.

    Video Games 
  • In Bully, the main character's plan is to invoke this by subjugating the leaders of the schools gangs to defeat Gary by beating them up and declaring them his friend. For some reason, this works.
  • Susie in Deltarune starts out as a big, mean, Barbaric Bully that everybody in the school fears, threatening to eat the protagonist's face and making them do her homework, all in the first scene. But one quick trip to another world later, she's learned to tone down the violence, open up, and made for some friends.
  • Groose in The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword starts out as a bully to most of the Knight Academy and sees himself as The Rival to Link for Zelda's attention, though Zelda never shows any interest in him. After he finds out that Link is The Chosen One while he himself has no prophecied part in events, he has a minor breakdown and then decides to help anyway, and in the end is instrumental to defeating the Big Bad.
  • Butch DeLoria from Fallout 3 can be this. He harasses the Player Character as a child, but if you make an effort to befriend him he can eventually become your traveling companion.
  • In Mafia II, Vito originally became friends with Joe because he stood up to the latter when he bullied Vito as children.

    Visual Novels 
  • Happens several times in Choices: Stories You Play:
    • In The Freshman, Becca, formerly Alpha Bitch number one, falls on hard times and eventually becomes friends with the main heroine.
    • In The Royal Romance, Olivia starts as a mean, self-centered rival for Prince Liam's heart, but after her Character Development she becomes one of the heroine's closest friends. The process can be sped up If the main heroine acts nice towards Olivia from the start.

    Western Animation 
  • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic:
    • Diamond Tiara used to bully the Cutie Mark Crusaders for their lack of a Cutie Mark and showed little mercy to the other classmates too. As of "Crusaders of the Lost Mark", however, her cruel tendencies are revealed to have been born of her mother's emotional abuse. The Crusaders reach out to her after seeing what she goes through on a daily basis, and by the end of the episode, Diamond Tiara breaks out of her shell and openly considers the Crusaders to be her friends.
    • Babs Seed starts off as a bully to the Crusaders too, latching onto Diamond Tiara and Silver Spoon and joining in their torment. By the end of her episode, however, she reconciles with them after they learn she was bullied at her old school for not having a Cutie Mark either.
  • Buford from Phineas and Ferb began initially as a bully to the brothers and their friends, especially for Baljeet, but mutual help and respect came along, such as rescuing Buford's goldfish, and now Buford is now joining the brothers' summer antics, being a foil for Baljeet.
  • Nelson in The Simpsons started out as a bully and antagonist to Bart and Lisa, but in later seasons he befriended Bart and even dated Lisa.

    Real Life 
  • In Jackie Chan's autobiography, he recalls how he was frequently bullied by the head student of his theater troupe Yuen Lung, but things mellowed into more of a rivalry after Chan became the lead star. As Chinese opera diminished in stature, the two started pulling for each other in finding film jobs. "Yuen Lo" grew up to be Jackie Chan, and Yuen Lung grew up to be Sammo Hung.

Top

How well does it match the trope?

Example of:

/

Media sources:

/

Report