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Bullying the Disabled

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"Shut up, you damn cripple!"

An easy way to make a character loathsome is to have them ostracize or tease someone with a (usually physical) disability. Most bullies wouldn't mock someone for having a disability — it's seen as too mean to mock someone who is "helpless" or someone who has an issue they have no control over — so only the most cruel characters do. Usually only younger characters act this way, however adults and even parents are also known to.

Compare to Bury Your Disabled and Abandon the Disabled. Sub-Trope to Kick the Dog and Moral Event Horizon. May be a reason for the disabled character Hiding the Handicap. Also compare to its approximate counterpart Disability as an Excuse for Jerkassery. Contrast Handicapped Badass, which bullies should not mess with this disabled character or they will be disabled.



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    Anime & Manga 
  • In My Hero Academia, Katsuki Bakugou has been bullying Izuku Midoriya for no less than ten years, on the grounds that Izuku is a Quirkless in a world where most people have superpowers (so, by the standards of that world, Izuku would be disabled). That, and Bakugou has somehow convinced himself that Izuku is looking down on him. Unfortunately, because of Values Dissonance, Bakugou's bullying (going as far as a Suicide Dare) is treated as no big deal, even though realistically it would have terrible consequences.
  • Ableism in Japan is a reoccurring theme in A Silent Voice:
    • The manga is about a New Transfer Student elementary schooler named Shoko Nishimiya who is bullied for being deaf. The protagonist, Shoya Ishida, is the worst of the bullies. He constantly makes fun of her, teases her, yanks her hearing aid off, and gets into a fight with her. After Shouko moves away, the class turn their bullying onto Shouya instead. Years later, a high school-aged Shouya learns sign language and tries to atone by befriending Shouko. Despite this, it doesn't help Shouko's feelings of inadequacy due to her deafness and the suicidal thoughts she's had since elementary school.
    • Shouko's own mother has acted cold towards her due to her deafness. However, she doesn't hate her daughter. Yaeko made Shouko stay in her elementary school so that she could toughen up. When someone does complain about her daughter, she slaps her hard. It turns out that Yaeko's in-laws blamed Yaeko for Shouko's deafness and thought that it was the reason why Yaeko's husband divorced her, giving a reason for her distant behavior towards her daughters.
    • Ueno is a Clingy Jealous Girl who hates Shouko's guts for being close to Shouya. She takes out aggression on Shouko by mocking and bullying her, at one point even telling her You Should Have Died Instead when Shouya saves her from suicide and ends up in a coma. Unlike the other bullies, she shows no remorse towards it. Ueno even tries to shift the bullying away from herself.
  • Sword Art Online:
    • Shino was often bullied for her PTSD which led her to have a phobia of guns. A certain group of bullies used this to extort money out of her. She eventually Grew a Spine and gets over her fear, preventing the bullies from ever taking advantage of her again.
    • When Kirito is rendered catatonic and wheelchair-bound, some jerks steal his sword and mock him when he falls out of the wheelchair and crawls after them trying to take it back. Fortunately, Alice steps in and forces them to back off and give the sword back.
  • Hikaru from With the Light is autistic. He receives a lot of critique and bullying because he's autistic. Sadly, his family is also on the receiving end of this, too.

    Comic Books 

    Comic Strips 
  • FoxTrot: Peter once punched out a bully who was making fun of his blind girlfriend Denise. Denise herself is initially miffed that Peter punched another student—then upon learning the reason why, she's miffed that Peter had only punched him.
  • A week-long sequence in Garfield had Odie bullying Garfield stuck in a body cast. Garfield when he recuperates gets his revenge by whacking Odie with the cast.

    Fan Works 
  • The My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic animation Snowdrop (2013) involves a blind filly who is bullied due to her blindness.
  • In Bubbles, Derpy's mother abuses her for being disabled. Other foals also tease Derpy due to her impairments as well.
  • Pokémon: A Marvelous Journey:
    • The main character, Julia, often mentions that she was frequently bullied in school due to how her autism manifests, and many kids thought she was weird. Her second-grade teacher, Ms. Amoretto, also bullied her because she assumed Julia was some bratty kid whose parents didn't discipline her correctly. There was an incident where Julia was somehow trapped in a PokeBall storage shed in the midst of four Pokemon fighting each other. She was rescued, but Amoretto suspected she started it. This culminates in her trying to strangle Julia in front of one of the other teachers, several students, and a police officer visiting the school that day. Unsurprisingly, Amoretto got arrested, fired from the school, and was blacklisted from ever teaching again. Amoretto also got her butt sued off by Julia's VERY pissed-off parents.
    • Her older sister, Amara, is especially hard on her, going from calling her names to blaming her for all of the family's problems. This is because Amara is struggling to cope with the death of a friend in a healthy way, and takes her aggression out on pretty much everyone, even when they haven't done anything to her.
    • Beta Bitch Lakeisha Knowles, who bullied Julia, also bullies her younger sister Merlin (who is also on the Autism Spectrum) due to the growing influence of Alpha Bitch Kirsten. This peaks in Lakeisha recording a video of one of Merlin's meltdowns, without her permission or knowledge, and texts it to her friends in an attempt to show them that having an autistic sibling is horrible. It does not go well for her at all. All her friends are disgusted with Lakeisha for violating her sister's privacy like that, and then her former friend Cindy (whose mom is autistic) reports what happened to one of the teachers and the principal, getting Lakeisha in serious trouble both at school and at home.
  • In Lost, Found, Ryuuko touches upon this with a one-eyed Nui. According to her, the other kids at the "orphanage" liked to pick on Nui because, being blind in one eye, she wouldn't see them coming.
    • Something similar to Nui's situation also happens in Orange Juice with Ryuuko, who's visually impaired note . The store owner and clerk think it's funny to trick her into buying orange juice when she's trying to buy milk because the cartons feel the same and the colors on either aren't bright enough for her to see.
  • Burning Bridges, Building Confidence: Through Malicious Slander, Lila convinces most of her classmates that Cole is faking her vision problems, despite the fact that she's missing one of her eyes. This leads to her followers bullying and belittling Cole, even declaring that she deserves to have lost her eye. This bites Alya in the ass when she assaults Cole, as her mother responds by getting the act labeled an ableist hate crime. Ms. Bustier and the school also face more serious consequences for allowing the bullying to go unaddressed for so long.
  • Averted in Son of the Sannin. Naruto mistakenly assumes this is happening when he spots Hinata being bullied by three kids who call her eyes creepy. After driving them away, he warns them to never make a girl cry again, "especially a blind girl". While Hinata is grateful for his help, she needs to clear up that she's not actually blind.
  • Lady Fairy (I_dont_know_whats_going_on_either): Much like in canon, Chole and Lila bully Marinette. Only in this fic, Marinette is blind.
  • Discussed in Infinity Train: Blossoming Trail: Chloe's classmates, a Gang of Bullies, were recorded and gloated at how they loved hurting Chloe. The ringleader, Sara, even states that anyone who was not considered normal deserved to be crushed...which also includes a student named Franklin Borage. Who has Asperger's. Needless to say, this gets everyone in a lot of hot water as the public now assumes that Sara is willing to attack a special needs kids.

    Films — Animation 
  • Tempest from My Little Pony: The Movie (2017) is a unicorn with a fractured horn. Her Start of Darkness involves her friends abandoning her after she broke her horn.
  • Vanellope from Wreck-It Ralph is relentlessly bullied by the racers in her game for being a "glitch", which is treated as a disability in-universe.note  The way they mock her for it is painfully similar to how one would mock a person with epilepsy.
  • Discussed in the documentary My Depression. Liz is worried about random people finding out about her depression and judging her for it. She's then surrounded by a group of talking heads saying things about how she has it "too good" to be depressed, how depression isn't a serious issue, and how she needs to do little things to cure her depression.
  • In Beauty and the Beast, this is used for Deliberate Values Dissonance. The townspeople take joy in Gaston trying to put the supposedly "insane" Maurice into an asylum, despite knowing he's not dangerous or helpless enough for it to be necessary. They mock him and think he deserves it.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Forrest Gump: As a boy, Forrest Gump had to wear leg braces to help him walk after he got sick from polio. When a group of bullies threaten young Forrest and with Jenny's command "Run, Forrest, run!", he flees with such fervor that he shatters his braces and bolts away with astonishing speed. He also has a mental disability and gets called "stupid" for it, which he hates. Lieutenant Dan, who lost both legs from an injury while they served in Vietnam, flies into a rage over this and being called a "cripple".
  • Recovery portrays the struggles of Alan Hamilton who suffers from brain damage. During a "trial day" at his job, Alan gets confused about what task a client wants him to do, leading to her yelling at his friend, who was supervising him, for employing an "incompetent lunatic", stating Alan as "not right in the head". Alan overhears this while hiding in the bathroom, crying, responding with "I BUILT THIS HOUSE, I MADE THIS HOME!!", before continuing to sob.
  • In SHAZAM! (2019) Billy steps in to defend his disabled foster brother, Freddy, attacking the bullies with Freddy's own fallen crutch. It's implied that this was the event that led the Wizard to pick him as his new Champion. The bullies, who are both bigger than Freddy and going two-on-one, made a sneak attack on him in front of the whole school. Way to introduce yourself to the movie-going public, guys.
  • In Freaks, this sort of prejudice is why the sideshow performers defend each other so fiercely. For example, the trapeze artist Cleopatra launches into a tirade disparaging the "freaks" — which is especially shocking considering that she just married one of them, namely the dwarf Hans. As it turns out, she plans to kill Hans for his money and then shack up with the strongman Hercules, but the others in the sideshow figure out her plan and get their horrific revenge by mutilating Cleopatra until she's a "freak" too.
  • In Friday the 13th, Jason Voorhees was physically deformed and possibly mentally disabled. As a result, he was picked on and ostracized by other children when he was a boy, which caused a chain of events that led to many deaths.
  • In Thir13en Ghosts we find that in the Ghost Backstories, this is what happened to the Great Child, a mentally handicapped and infantilized circus freak. The end result was the circus destroyed and a lot of people axed after his mother was killed as a result of a prank, as well as the Great Child being torn apart by a mob and becoming a fairly dangerous ghost in the afterlife.
  • What's Eating Gilbert Grape:
    • While she's not disabled in the usual sense other than her morbid obesity making her need a cane, the townsfolk gawk and make fun of Bonnie "Mama" Grape, with Gilbert even charging some of the kids for a peek at her through the windows and this is trope is why the Grapes burn the house down after they discovered that she died in her sleep.
    • This trope is played with on Arnie's end. From what we see, people tend to be nicer and don't pick on Arnie, other than Ellen being rough with him, but some of that could be because of Gilbert's "Nobody Touches Arnie" rule.
  • The brain-damaged Nicky from Dominick and Eugene is a frequent target of this. Once some boys surround him, knock his groceries out of his arms, and try to force him to touch their boogers until Gino chases them away.

  • Warrior Cats: Crookedstar was born "Stormkit". After breaking his jaw, his mother renamed him "Crookedkit". Rainflower abandoned Crookedkit after he received his injuries (complete with moving to a separate den) and didn't even give him a life when he became The Leader of his clan. It's implied that, on top of being horrified by his face, she refused to love a kit that would likely die.
  • Stacey from The Babysitters Club moved to Connecticut from New York because she was bullied for being diabetic.
  • In Carrie, we learn that when Chris was in junior high, she put a firecracker in a classmate’s shoe and nearly mutilated the poor girl’s foot because she had a cleft lip.
  • Several characters in Wings of Fire aren't shy about either mocking Sunny for her weird looks or calling her "defective". Sunny isn't deformed like everyone thought. She's a SandWing/NightWing mix.
  • I Am J:
    • As a child, J once got into a fight because other kids were bullying a girl for being in Special Ed.
    • Politically Incorrect Hero J internally pokes fun at a man with Carpal Tunnel Syndrome because he wears wrist braces.
  • In Flowers for Algernon, Charlie's coworkers (at a factory in the original short story, and at a bakery in the later novel) take advantage of his intellectual impairment to play all manner of nasty pranks on him. Worse, he still considers those people his friends because he doesn't realize what's going on. After Charlie gets an experimental operation to enhance his intelligence, he's quite shocked when his supposed friends try to toy with him again and he finally gets a grasp on what they've been doing, and his coworkers soon feel so intimidated by his burgeoning genius that they get him fired. After his newfound intelligence starts deteriorating and he can no longer continue his brief scientific career, he goes back to his old workplace, but hearteningly, his coworkers are genuinely friendly to him now; one even stands up to a new employee who was bullying Charlie.
  • Worm: During a photoshoot with a bunch of superheroes, Taylor's bullies made incredibly obnoxious comments about a disabled girl. This led them to being chewed out by Glory Girl. The incident kickstarted Madison's realization about how awful she was.
  • Early Riser: Protagonist Charlie Worthing grew up in a "Pooled Parentage Station" (aka an orphanage), having been surrendered by their biological parents due to a congenital facial deformity. Gary Findlay, one of Charlie's pool-mates, bullied Charlie mercilessly until Charlie snapped at the age of nine and bit Gary's ear off.
  • Ghost of Spirit Bear: Keith and his friends target Peter for his limp and brain damage. And it's not just Peter; all the bullies at Minneapolis High School tend to pick on those who aren’t able to fight back, which means they bully the disabled as much as they bully others. For example, Cole sees a boy with Down Syndrome getting bullied at one point.
  • "Something in the Rain" by Seanan McGuire has a post apocalyptic world where there are only two people left alive in the town: the autistic and mentally ill protagonist, and the girl who bullied her in school. The bully tries to move in with her upon seeing that she's better off, but eventually goes back to her old ways despite the fact that she relies on her. This culminates in her trying to kill the protagonist's cat and getting thrown out of the house, then being killed by the deadly rain when she tried to get back inside rather than run for cover.

    Live-Action TV 
  • At one point in Boardwalk Empire, Al Capone is outraged to hear that his deaf son is being bullied at school, and demands to know what kind of bully is that low. His wife points out that the son goes to a special school for the deaf, so disability doesn't really factor into it, it's just a result of Kids Are Cruel.
  • In Everything's Gonna Be Okay Tellulah is not above this. She picks on Matilda, despite knowing full well that the latter is autistic. One episode sees her planning a party for Matilda as she waits to find out if she got into Juilliard... because she fully expects that Matilda will be rejected and suffer a meltdown in front of everyone.
  • Malcolm in the Middle:
    • Zig-zagged with Reese's bullying of Stevie: while Reese still gives Stevie the occasional hard time, he makes it perfectly clear as the school's Alpha Bully that Stevie is off-limits because he's disabled, and when he performs said bullying he actually tries to accommodate Stevie's disabilities in order to make it fair (like numbing his legs so he'll remain seated during a fight challenge, so Stevie will be able to hit him back).
    • When Stevie's parents were about to get divorced, Stevie took a lot of steps backward, becoming unable to speak. Malcolm didn't believe he was really unable to speak and pretended to bully him in an attempt to get him to fight back, making himself look like a colossal jerk to an onlooking crowd.
  • María la del barrio: Providing the page picture is Soraya Montenegro, Alicia's Wicked Stepmother, who loves to attack and torture the disabled Alicia in creative ways. She has an absolute contempt for her, and calls her "damn cripple!"
  • In The Eric Andre Show, in the episode with Wiz Khalifa, Eric mentions that he and his friends used to feed LSD to a mentally disabled girl and screamed to her 'NIGHTMARE NIGHTMARE NIGHTMARE'. And that cured her disability.
  • The Daily Show referenced this during the 2012 election in The United States, regarding a report that Republican candidate Mitt Romney was harsh to a "widow" who he encountered. Jon Stewart jokingly wondered if Romney had tripped a blind orphan too.
  • The Outer Limits (1995): In "Stream of Consciousness", Mark frequently verbally abuses and condescends to Ryan Unger, who is unable to access the Stream due to brain damage.
  • The School Nurse Files: In the final episode, the teachers make fun of Mr. Hong because he walks with a limp.
  • The Twilight Zone (1985): In "Our Selena is Dying", Martha Brockman (while pretending to her daughter Diane) describes the deaf Orville as "our sort of combination handyman and village idiot." She does so in his presence but with her face turned away from him so he can't read her lips. Her niece Debra is shocked and disgusted.

  • Eminem's Slim Shady character often bullies disabled people. In "Greg" he beats a 'retarded' kid over the head with his wooden leg, and he has a long-running beef with Christopher Reeve which involves him doing things like throwing him into quicksand and making him drink piss.


  • Occurs in song form in Ride the Cyclone, where six high school choir members who've died in a roller coaster crash make the case as to why they deserve a chance to return to the land of the living. As part of her "I Am Great!" Song, Ocean belittles all of her classmates for their lack of potential and "personal failings" compared to her — and with Ricky, she pulls no punches when it comes to his disability. She confidently tells her classmates Ricky's "never gonna breed," and questions how much mileage he'd get out of a second shot at life with his degenerative disease (which, at the time of his death, had already made it impossible for him to speak or to walk unassisted).
    Ocean: Oh no, comic books? Spiderman?
    This kid doesn't have the attention span!
    What's he gonna do, solve a Rubik's cube?
    How long's he got if they feed him through a tube?

    Video Games 

    Visual Novels 
  • Katawa Shoujo:
    • Played with when it comes to most characters. While they have a history of being coddled and looked down upon for their disabilities, most haven't been outright mocked for them.
    • Shizune Hakamichi's father and her little brother don't see her as a worthy heir due to her deafness. Her father Jigoro never even bothered to learn sign language and mentions he has in the past hired tutors trying to get Shizune to speak.
    • Hanako Ikezawa has noticeable burn marks on her body that led to her being bullied growing up.

    Web Animation 
  • Zig-Zagged in the Cyanide & Happiness short "Gym Class". The short starts with a gym class being told that they're going to do an obstacle course. A kid named Brian snickers and suggests that Suzy, a classmate who is in a wheelchair, be the first one to do the course. The gym teacher starts to call him out on his shittiness, but Suzy agrees and does all sorts of incredible stunts and feats of strength to complete the course. Brian then attempts it himself... and we get a Smash Cut to him in the hospital, sitting in a wheelchair, and his entire body bandaged up. The doctor informs him that he'll never walk again, and the gym teacher from before and the rest of the kids who joined him in mocking Suzy now laugh at Brian instead because he's disabled.
  • Most of the Sisters Steppe (minus Feather) bully Nothing (who has a limp due to an incident as a cub) in My Pride.
  • Attack On Mika:
    • Ririna ambushes Sakura in the school backyard and breaks the latter's prosthetic leg in twain.
    • Rui's younger sister Misa calls her ugly for having to use a glass eye, product of tumor surgery.
    • This story stars a blind girl being abused by her parents and older sister. This escalates to the point she leaves her home and almost gets taken advantage of by a drunk man had Namiko not showed up.


    Web Original 
  • Trey The Explainer discusses this and Bury Your Disabled in a video about how prehistoric humans treated their disabled. More specifically, he says it's actually more inaccurate to believe that prehistoric humans all ostracized their disabled than it is to portray "savage cavemen" as taking care of their ill. Not that being disabled during what was already a dangerous and violent era was in any way easy, it just wasn't an automatic death sentence as is usually portrayed.

    Western Animation 
  • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic: In "Flight to the Finish", Diamond Tiara and Silver Spoon mock Scootaloo's inability to fly, with the intent of crushing her self-esteem and ultimately dividing the Cutie Mark Crusaders. The show is intentionally vague on whether or not Scootaloo actually has a flying disability, but the point remains clear.
  • Family Guy:
    • In "Papa Has a Rollin' Son", Joe reveals he never told his father he's disabled because he always used to make fun of people in wheelchairs, calling them "spaghetti legs" and "angel-hair legs" note , towards the end of the episode Joe's father changes his attitude towards people with disablities after Joe reveals his disability to him.
    • In "The Tan Aquatic With Steve Zissou", Peter decides to become a bully after encouragement from Kyle, a teenager who'd been tormenting Chris until Peter beat him up, and begins terrorizing his friends and family, including Joe, who he forces to act as a string puppet by holding him up with ropes tied to his arms. He later tries to get back at his own childhood bully Randy, only to discover that Randy has MS and can't move without his crutches. This doesn't stop Peter, however, and he only stops bullying when Chris stands up to him, though in the latter case it's because Peter doesn't know what MS is.
  • Pelswick: The school bully, Boyd, is a recurring antagonist. He notes at one point that he can't ''physically'' harm Pelswick, and is pleased by the challenge of devising new ways to mess with him instead. Like stealing his bag lunch and leaving it at the top of the stairs.
  • She-Ra and the Princesses of Power: In "Coronation", Catra rips off the source of power of Hordak's armor, making him collapse. She uses that knowledge to keep him under her thumb and force him to accept her as Horde's co-leader. Although Hordak was a total jerkass to her, it is disturbing to see her taking advantage of his disabilities. More disturbing yet, many fans approve that.
    • Entrapta is canonically autistic, which frequently makes difficult her communication to other people. The others' reaction variate, from screaming at her (Catra), pulling her with vines(Perfuma), or being nice to her but condescendent, like Bow and Scorpia.
  • The Simpsons: Inverted in one episode, where a new student bumps into Nelson, who prepares to beat him up only to discover that the kid is blind. Nelson promises he'll take care of anyone who tries picking on the kid, only for the kid to say that everyone has been really nice so far because even in Springfield, you'd be hard-pressed to find someone that big a dick. Nelson insists on being his bodyguard anyway.
  • Mentioned on the South Park episode "Krazy Kripples" Jimmy Valmer's parents had mocked students with disabilities back when they were teenagers, which had apparently resulted in Jimmy being born disabled.
  • In Total Drama, Mike suffers from dissociative identity disorder. Once his secret is out, Scott proceeds to rub his disability in and uses it to blackmail him by threatening to tell his girlfriend.
  • SpongeBob SquarePants: In the episode "Demolition Doofus", Mrs. Puff gets her inflation sac popped after SpongeBob fails another boating exam. As Mrs. Puff is in the hospital, SpongeBob, oblivious about her situation, makes a joke about how Mrs. Puff should now be called "Mrs. Pop", which causes her to lash out at him until the doctor injects a needle to calm her down. Sponge then proceeds to tell the doctor Mrs. Puff looks better this way, causing him to be injected as well.


Video Example(s):


Que haces besando a la lisiada

Soraya Montenegro suddenly finds his boyfriend kissing another woman. She first insults them and then attacks them. The girl is her daughter-in-law, she's crippled and in a wheelchair, but she does not care at all.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (3 votes)

Example of:

Main / WomanScorned

Media sources: