Loki: That was the plan.
Tony: Not a great plan.
This is the fate-tempting and suicidal tendency of characters to bully, persecute or otherwise provoke people or things they really shouldn't be messing with. That weird loner who sits in a corner reading? Fine, douchebag. That "antagonist" who's really just trying to live his life and doesn't want much to do with you? Go on then, you bastard. That beautiful lady who can heal people? If you're that low, go for it (but keep in mind that you may find yourself in a position later where you need her to heal you). The blind kid that somehow knows what you're about to do and is powerless to stop you? Go for it, you donkey. Whatever floats your boat.
But the kid who can warp the fabric of reality and just wants to be left alone?
Sub-Trope of Too Dumb to Live. Also a sub-trope of All of the Other Reindeer, where the character is surrounded by tormentors even though they are known to have some incredible power conducive to being a Person of Mass Destruction, and most of the time because of this. This frequently crops up in Kids Are Cruel (in which case it would be "Kids Are Cruel and Also Too Stupid to Deserve to Exist"). It's usually a way of getting us to sympathize with the main character, but, really, bullies should be smart enough not to mock the "freak" Cursed with Awesome and Super-Strength. Even when logically — or at least using the basest level of human decency and the smallest inkling of self-preservation — these bullies should find a weaker target or cut the poor kid some slack. So, in a sense, Straw Bullies. Then again, Youth Is Wasted on the Dumb and the Prideful.
The Smug Snake has a tendency to do this, since their overconfidence causes them to forsake their common sense.
The Fettered especially have it bad because they choose not to fight back and often protect their tormentors from the Forces of Evil. Sometimes the bully in question knows this, and we're back to them being cowards who pick on those who can't/won't retaliate.
If the victim snaps, they will turn the tables (if not turn the table into a buzzsaw, set it spinning at hurricane-level speeds, and shove their tormentors' intestines into the spinning blades… literal tables need not be involved). Also, don't lie. It is very cathartically awesome when the bullies are finally killed off or subjected to a Fate Worse than Death as Revenge. (And, if they have not done anything remotely objectionable up to this point, this could well be taken as a case of Dark Is Not Evil.) Unfortunately, many of the times a bully attempts to go after someone of this ilk is because they are trying to elicit a response, which, in turn, would prove everyone's point about how much of a freak they truly are. Then again, in many cases, this makes them even stupider, as they don't seem to consider anything particularly awful happening to themselves as a result of their actions.
Please note: the trope need not require actual bullying (though it is a popular method). As long as the provoker or provokers intentionally and excessively antagonize someone much more powerful than they are, knowing full well beforehand just what they are screwing with, then it's Bullying a Dragon. Also, if the Dragon is a massive jerk and suffers abuse because of that, then we may be dealing with a case of Cape Busters instead. If this trope is done with the likely outcome as the goal, it's Suicide by Cop or maybe Strike Me Down with All of Your Hatred!.
Also, see Fantastic Racism. A popular Freudian Excuse and backstory for a Start of Darkness. This trope doesn't usually have anything to do with The Dragon who's the Big Bad's second-in-command (although, it might). Video Game examples where the AI keeps trying to bully you despite the power difference because it's not programmed to back down has a special trope, Suicidal Overconfidence. The Cornered Rattlesnake is weaker than a 'Dragon' and may not appear powerful or willing to fight back but can be dangerous if pushed too far. If the bullying takes the form of sexually predatory acts, then it is also a case of Lust Makes You Dumb.
- Did You Just Flip Off Cthulhu?: Showing defiance to something you know is about to kill you.
- Do Not Taunt Cthulhu: When the entity you've been picking on retaliates by murdering you.
- Mugging the Monster: If you thought you were the badass and they were an easy victim. Can evolve into Bullying a Dragon if you find out the hard way that you're outclassed but still persist in provoking further attacks. It can also exist simultaneously when the obviously intimidating and dangerous person is hiding something that makes them even more intimidating and dangerous.
- Paper Tiger: An inversion in which the target looks powerful but is only putting up a façade.
- Shooting Superman: Launching an attack against a target you know is tough enough to just shrug it off.
- Villain Ball: Doing something stupid in the name of the Evulz.
- Anime & Manga
- Comic Books
- Fan Works
- Films — Animation
- Films — Live-Action
- Live-Action TV
- Myths & Religion
- Pro Wrestling
- Tabletop Games
- Video Games
- Web Comics
- Web Original
- Western Animation
- Real Life
- The Messin' with Sasquatch commercials for Jack Links beef jerky has the Sasquatch going ballistic and inflicting harm upon people who decide to provoke him for cheap laughs. Though sometimes they get away with it, so maybe that's why people keep screwing with him.
- An insurance commercial shows a bunch of rabbits laughing themselves sick at a rattlesnake with a pink and white baby-rattle in place of a normal one. Did the writers not know that it's the other end of a rattlesnake that's venomous?
- A couple Stacker 2 commercials had a man make fun of Kane, a sadistic monster heel from the WWE. Ends about as well as you'd expect...
- A Spike TV commercial has a pair of convention-goers mock Boba Fett for his unusual name and appearance. It ends badly for them.
- A Mountain Dew commercial features two teens making fun of Chuck Norris with an animated video on the web. Chuck is not pleased.
- One of the "Cheetos Break" commercials has the Cheetah and a bank teller acting flippant in the face of a pair of armed bank robbers. The Cheetah even hits one with a rubber band.
- A commercial for a college of gaming has an animation of an absolutely massive rock golem stepping in the path of a boulder as big as he is from flattening a town at the foot of the mountain. The giant succeeds in stopping it, but his heel just barely taps the town's church, which destroys it. The town immediately brings out their weapons, and the giant (who doesn't look much more than annoyed by the catapults) just steps out of the way and lets the boulder flatten the town.
- Perhaps a literal example in a commercial for Spyro 2: Ripto's Rage!, which is done in the style of Davey and Goliath. In the commercial, a boy named Mikey pulls Spyro's tail despite his dog telling him not to. Eventually, Spyro gets so annoyed with Mikey that he head-butts him.
- A CN City bumper has Edward bully Eduardo (a big purple Gentle Giant) by kicking him in the face, poking him in the eye and punching him in the gut. Eduardo throws Edward into a wall.
- Noonbory and the Super 7: In "Coldy's Snow Gurys", Lukybory decides to steal Coldygury's scarf as retribution for him stealing the bory's produce, even know Coldygury is much larger and stronger than him and can easily take him out with a barrage of snowballs.
- Running Man: Charming Gold of the Pikok Tribe has his own episode which revealed the truth of his past. Thousands of years ago, Charming Gold was bullied by the other Pikok Tribe residents for looking ugly enough as to be called a 'Monster' by them. Even his parents thought that he was cursed by the Gods, and questioned his existence while he was standing within earshot of their room. When the bully tried to mock him in the forest, Charming Gold snapped and indirectly discovered his powers by sucking the bully's life force until he turned into dust. His powers grant him youth, which enables him to become near immortal. The look on his face probably shows that he knew about his powers and he has enough of the bullying. The shocking part is when he absorbed his fellow tribe's life forces, which possibly caused a genocide of his own species until he's the only one left from his tribe. This became one of the reasons why he wants to rebuild a new race — because he killed them.
- Garfield on more than one occasion has made the mistake of picking fights with dogs who are much bigger than him, resulting in him getting severely beaten. The August 23, 1981 strip even went so far as to imply that the dog that was picked on ate Garfield. In another strip he insults and slaps a dog thinking he's safe because said dog is leashed...and then the dog casually snaps their collar with a Slasher Smile.
- In Peanuts, Snoopy constantly teases and insults World War III the cat next door, even though the end result is usually having his doghouse torn to pieces by the angry cat, and any physical confrontation between them results in Snoopy (and anyone else caught in the middle) almost killed.
- In Scary Gary, a lot of people think it’s a good idea to pick on the resident vampire and his demonic-looking henchman. Their survival depends on who they go after.
- Gary is more than powerful enough to kill every human he meets with ease, but doesn’t because he has changed his ways. That being said, he isn’t afraid to remind people of what he is and what he could do if he was really pushed to his limits.
- Leopold just kills and/or eats them.
- A literal example happens in SnarfQuest when an explosion restores Willie's memory and he reverts to his true identity of the evil dragon Kizarvexius. Unaware of this, Suthaze believes he is still dealing with Willie the duck and starts pushing him around the way he always does. This proves... unwise.
- Batterram by Toddy Tee about police using the titular vehicle, an APC with a battering ram, to break into suspected crackhouses has a dealer taunting the cops when its battery craps out in front of his friends then it's fixed and his "living room is in his den."
- In Leslie Fish's Rudyard Kipling-inspired Filk Song "Bashing the Balrog", a low-level adventuring party attempts to take on a balrog (a powerful demon that is much more suited for a much higher-level party), with predictable results.
- The subject of not one but two Jim Croce songs:
- "Bad, Bad Leroy Brown" and "You Don't Mess Around With Jim" both have subversions, as the supposed tough guys either wind up badly beaten or dead at the hands of the instigator.)
- "You Don't Mess Around With Jim" also contains multiple straight examples in the chorus.
- "Big Iron" by Marty Robbins is a western ballad in which a man rides into town and identifies himself as an Arizona Ranger, there to take back the outlaw currently living in the town. When the outlaw hears about this, he laughs it off and challenges the latter to a Showdown at High Noon, thinking he'll be another easy kill. Like the Texas Rangers their division is modeled after, Arizona Rangers are some of the most hardened badasses in civilian law enforcement. Texas Red was dead before his gun cleared leather.
Oh, he might have went on livin' but he made one fatal slip
When he tried to match the Ranger with the big iron on his hip
- Ray Stevens' "Ballad of the Blue Cyclone" has the narrator and his friend attend a wrestling match featuring the titular character. The friend commits this trope by throwing a chair in the ring, but it's the narrator that winds up "being put to sleep" because his friend was able to lock him out of the car. The narrator is haunted by the attack, but, instead of simply leaving the Cyclone alone, he gets the bright idea of going for revenge. He accosts the Cyclone in a bar only to realize too late that his backup split. He ends the song with the doctor scolding him.
"Boy, if you don't leave the Cyclone alone / one of these days, you ain't goin' home!"
- There's a children's song about a trio of monkeys living in the jungle who get bored one day and decide to taunt the crocodile in the river, confidant that they're too quick to be caught by him. He promptly tricks one of the monkeys into coming close, and the next verse is about the two monkeys living in the jungle who get bored and decide to taunt the crocodile. The song ends with a jungle that has no monkeys but one very full crocodile.
- Ninja Sex Party consists of one Lovable Sex Maniac and one Axe-Crazy Ninja, and for some reason the man with no powers keeps insulting the ninja. Suffice to say, Danny Sexbang has been stabbed a lot.
- "This Moment" by Disturbed "You're the one who kept pushing / till I made you bleed."
- In the music video for Delta Rae's Bottom of the River, a mob breaks into a woman's house and seems like they're going to lynch her, presumably for witchcraft. While she's dragged off in chains, she does not seem to despair for long; her bindings eventually disappear, and while we do not see what happens to her captors, when the camera returns to them they've been either struck down or have disappeared completely, leaving only their masks.
- Inhuman eXperience: The "genius" plan to control Tamar? Manipulate her into hating herself throughout her childhood and then set her up with a handler who "handles" her to control her further note . To paraphrase the smoldering pile of ash that used to be federal agent, they were playing with fire in a paper house.
- In Sequinox, this is what you should expect from a bunch of teen magical girls. They tend to mock and insult the stars they fight against, even if it's not the best idea and the stars have already stated they're here to kill them.
- The Dr. Demento show had "Tae Kwon Leap (Boot To The Head)" skit by The Frantics wherein an idiot threatens a martial arts master:
Ed Gruberman: Listen, shrimp! Now are you gonna show me some fancy moves, or am I gonna start wipin' the walls with you?
Martial Arts Master: Ed Gruberman, you fail to grasp Tae Kwon Leap. Approach me that you might see.
Ed Gruberman: All right! Finally some action!
Martial Arts Master: Observe closely, class. Boot to the Head! [TH-WHUMP!]
Ed Gruberman: Owww! You booted me in the head!
- Darwin's Soldiers:
- Alfred in the 3rd RP. He is a hulking bison with hands bigger than most people's heads and is strong enough to bend rebar with his bare hands
- Gustave is an even more extreme example. There have been cases where people have tried to pick fights with him, despite being a massive scarred-up Nile crocodile with a major anger management problem. Not to mention, he has several convictions for assault and he dismembered someone with his bare hands.
- Felis the Liepard in We Are All Pokémon Trainers has enough bad judgment so as to annoy and outright insult even legendaries. And quite some orders of magnitude below that, when bullying Nadia (Salamence, i.e.: a literal dragon), he has got himself almost killed.
- Cyrano de Bergerac: The people in this list know the guy who they are bullying is dangerous, but they did not care. Christian ends well, but the others...
- Act I Scene II, Ligniere brags about his song, where he exposes the persecution of Roxane by De Guiche. Ligniere himself admits De Guiche is a powerful noble who is wedded to the niece of Richelieu.
Ligniere: Ho! he must rage at me! The end hit home... Listen!
- Act I, Scene IV. A bore bluntly mentions Cyrano that he cannot pretend to humiliate Montfleury, an actor protected by the Duke of Candale, and not to have himself a protector.
- Act I, Scene IV. After seeing Cyrano deal with the bore, De Valvert mentions Cyrano's nose.
- Act II Scene IX. After some comments about Cyrano's murdering ways by the cadets, Christian makes a Hurricane of Puns about Cyrano's nose.
- Act I Scene II, Ligniere brags about his song, where he exposes the persecution of Roxane by De Guiche. Ligniere himself admits De Guiche is a powerful noble who is wedded to the niece of Richelieu.
- The Phantom of the Opera: Although the Phantom has the previous day dropped a heavy backcloth on the Opera House's Prima Donna, the managers still think it's be a really great idea to completely ignore his demands that Christine is cast, and instead choose a singer who is much inferior to her. The Phantom promises that "if these demands are not met, a disaster beyond your imagination will occur." Let's just say these aren't empty words... They do wise up by the second act, however, when the Phantom crashes the Masquerade Ball and says, in effect, "Hey, here's the score for this opera I just wrote; I think you guys will know what to do with it. Oh yeah, that Falling Chandelier of Doom a few months back? That was me being nice." The managers, albeit very reluctantly, realize open defiance is not the safest of options.
- DSBT InsaniT: In 'Untamed and Uncut', Dave breaks into a Windear exhibit to fight them. It does NOT go well for him.
- Dreamscape: In episode 6, Melissa chastises Keedran for always acting so sarcastic and silly, in comparison to her fellow guardians Kai, Eleenin, and Drake. The thing is, Keedran is an actual deity who is a Knight in Sour Armor about protecting humanity, and when Melissa's lashing ends up pressing her Berserk Button, Keedran reminds her exactly who she is dealing with in a "The Reason You Suck" Speech.
- Final Fantasy VII: Machinabridged:
- When Cait Sith says that everyone would have to insult Vincent instead of Cloud if he left, Cid says, "F*** that, that dude eats people!"
- In Episode 27, Scarlet slaps Tifa around, punches her in the gut, and leaves her to die in a gas chamber. And yet, when Tifa gets away thanks to Sapphire WEAPON's attack, Scarlet declares that she will conduct Tifa's punishment herself. Tifa flips the scenario on its head and describes, in graphic detail, how badly she's going to fuck Scarlet up if she doesn't tell her where Cloud is. Scarlet does not comply... and gets knocked off the Junon cannon for her trouble.
Tifa: I'm going to beat the f*ck out of you so badly, your face is going to be the new bowl I eat my Tankceratops cereal out of. And yes, your blood will be the milk.
- Manga-Waido: Maina was mistreated by Sano who was on a power-trip since she is his subordinate. When he poured beer on her, she revealed that she was a former delinquent and gave him such a scare that slipped Sano out of his bravado.
- Nightfall Nod from Midnight Mares who is essentially an Expy of Nightmare Moon as a teenager pony sums this trope up nicely:
Nightfall Nod: I get to be the bully now.
- Minilife TV: In "Poking the Pilot", after Chris and Ian prank their own god, Goshua, he pranks them back by sending them through alternate timelines.
- RWBY: Cinder Fall is a deadly combatant and manipulator with an ability that makes her one of the most powerful people on Remnant. This doesn't stop one character from trying to blackmail her by threatening to get her into trouble with her even more dangerous boss. Neo steals the Relic of Knowledge from Salem and then taunts Cinder with it because Cinder has failed to give Neo her promised chance of revenge against Ruby. Cinder apologizes just enough to convince Neo to hand over the Relic, devises a plan to obtain the second Relic and then throws Neo into The Void Between The Worlds as soon as Neo has served her purpose.
- Shrapnel: After the Ugandan Knuckles are freed, one of them claims that Reznya, who their leader had been referring to as their/a queen, is no real queen to him, and starts insulting and spitting on her. He doesn’t live long.
- D 20 Live :
- At the 2012 game played at ConBravo, Spoony literally did this to a dragon the DM intended the players to recruit an army to fight. Things did not go well for that dragon and after a series of Critical Failures, it actually wound up dying at their hands.
- In an earlier story, his character Tandem the Spoony antagonized Zeus by sleeping with his daughter. Things did not go well for the spoony bard and he got his ass literally thrown off Olympus.
- During Tandem's final mission, among a party playing Dungeonland: Tandem decides to fight the March Harenote one-on-one when the Tea Party turns violent. After being crane-kicked across the table, Spoony learns that the March Hare is a twentieth-level monk. Tandem is an eighteenth-level bard. Somehow, Spoony wins.
- A strange example of the trope being both played Straight and Inverted in his Final Fantasy Reviews. Spoony spends hours ranting and raving about the poor quality of the games' writing and animation, only for a Character from the game (including Special Ops soldiers, professional athletes and accomplished terrorists) to turn up in his bedroom and try to murder him with guns, gunblades, magic, blitzballs and brutal wrestling moves. Despite this, he has so far killed all of them in increasingly gory ways, but neither side seems to be taking the hint... He was defeated by The Black Knight. Though The Black Knight had no intention of killing Spoony. Just permanently annoying him.
- Epic NPC Man: The pair of mugger NPCs don't seem capable of overriding their programming to mug people. Even though Charles is well aware of the dangers, he's consistently goaded by Bernard into attempting to mug dangerous marks like The Watcher (a high level dragon and hydra-slaying Player Character that has taken on whole armies), his own grandmother (who is a a better mugger than her grandson), and a literal dragon.
- Epic Rap Battles of History: Since the series frequently involves rap battles between supernatural beings, this comes up a lot.
- Abraham Lincoln, knowing full well the kind of godly feats his opponent is capable of, calls Chuck Norris a washed-up has-been, threatens to squash him, and then dumps a bunch of pennies on his head.
- Adolf Hitler relentlessly mocks Darth Vader, even after Vader first freezes him in carbonite and drops him into the Rancor pit.
- Sherlock Holmes thinks it's a good idea to taunt Batman about his dead parents.
- Stevie Wonder tells Wonder Woman that all her TV shows suck, her invisible jet looks stupid, and implies that she's a hypocrite and fake feminist.
- Vlad the Impaler accuses Count Dracula of being weak and soft, and threatens to kill him with Olive Garden garlic breadsticks.
- The Joker taunts Pennywise the Clown, a man-eating space demon whose true form drives people to madness just by the sight of it, over his previous defeats at the hands of "a herd of nerds who call themselves the Loser's Club" and "a turtle who wasn't even a ninja", and over the infamous child orgy scene from his book which even the Joker finds too tasteless. Justified, as Joker opens his rap by pointing out his own apparent inability to die, so Pennywise is no threat to him.
- J. Robert Oppenheimer mocks Thanos's bizarre appearance, speaking style, abusive childhood, rejection by Mistress Death, and defeats at the hands of Iron Man and Squirrel Girl.
- While Hat Films are fairly competent Minecraft players, their two efforts to harass Lewis Brindley and Sjin at Sjin's Farm have ended in failure, after Lewis and Sjin decided to fight back. The first time ended with one of the Sirs falling to their death in a ravine, the second ended with a group of captive beasts hacking them to pieces.
- CalebCity's How EVERY throwaway villain acts when the MC needs to be power scaled has the protagonist walking into a Bad Guy Bar and getting threatened by two thugs. The protagonist implores the two thugs to not attack him for their own safety, as he just singlehandedly fought off a gang of a hundred thugs. The two thugs attack him anyway, leading to the protagonist blowing one up just by looking at them, and the other one getting killed from the natural oils on the protagonist's face.
- Mark Rober, whose amongst other things makes YouTube videos about the glitter bomb packages he leaves to get stolen by porch pirates, mailed several copies of his latest glitter bomb to volunteering viewers to leave in front of their doors. He noticed that one viewer didn't place their package, and the viewer in question admitted he had no intention to use it or send it back, and had used a fake address anyway. Mark wondered why someone familiar with his channel, who'd know he quit his job at NASA to design glitter bombs and make videos about it after someone stole a package worth a few dozen bucks from his porch, would think it a good idea to try and scam him for a joke. After easily finding his real address, Mark proceeded to order a few hundred dollars worth a material from Scientology to be delivered to him, so Scientology would consider him a good mark to pester with further proselytizing. He also send several cards, such as a pass for a furry convention or a thanks for his support from "Texans for Hillary", addressed to the viewer but with "accidentally" changed house numbers, to embarrass the guy to his neighbors.