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Cowardice Callout

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"Cell was right. You think you're better than everyone else, but there you stand: the good man doing nothing. And while evil triumphs, and your rigid pacifism crumbles into bloodstained dust, the only victory afforded to you is that you stuck true to your guns. You were a coward... to your last whimper."

Maybe Alice is tired of Bob running and hiding from his problems and his mistakes instead of owning up to them. Maybe Alice is disgusted at Emperor Evulz kicking all those puppies only while he has the upper hand and never facing a real challenge. Maybe Alice caught Bob running away from the battlefield while others stood and fought. Maybe Alice is pissed off that Bob has had so many chances to stand up to Evulz for what's right but never takes them. Maybe Alice is outraged that Bob and Evulz expect others to make sacrifices for them that they would never make themselves. Whether it's an act of full-blown Dirty Cowardice (with the heinousness that entails) or just an act of weakness, Alice has had enough and it's time to tell Bob/Evulz that they're a coward in her eyes.

Calling someone a coward is a particularly scathing insult or challenge, particularly in the case of men: due to the Double Standard expecting men to be brave, strong, and willing to endure unpleasant or dangerous challenges, calling a man a coward equates to saying they're unworthy to be called a man, and it's considered one of the worst forms of emasculation, if they don't take it up as an outright challenge to their manhood. The word "coward" undermines the recipient by making them out to be weak, the slime of the earth undeserving of living, the most useless and wretched to the larger group or society of which they're meant to be a part.

Important notes: To qualify for this trope, the following criteria must both be met:

  1. One person must call another person out on their shortcoming or fault, specifically calling them out on their actions/behavior being driven by fear/cowardice as part of the criticism. If the recipient isn't specifically being called out on cowardice, then it's most likely one of the other Rebuke Tropes.
  2. The accusation against the recipient must at the very least hold some real water to it. If the recipient is not really a coward, or if the person is merely being called a coward to provoke them, then that's The So-Called Coward and Fisticuff-Provoking Comment respectively.

If the "coward" in question doesn't just soak up the insult or brush it off (as might happen if the recipient is a deplorable Card-Carrying Villain), they're liable to either strive to improve themself based on the feedback, or they'll have a Nobody Calls Me "Chicken"! reaction — if the "coward" has the latter reaction and is a villain, then their reaction will often be to the hero's and/or innocent bystanders' detriment. It's also possible that a villainous "coward" will bask in being called as much. A Cowardice Callout may be an Inspirational Insult if it motivates the "coward" to overcome their fear just to spite the one who called them such. For similar reasons, though, it may overlap with Fisticuff-Provoking Comment.

The Cowardice Callout can be utilized as Break Them by Talking, and/or as part of "The Reason You Suck" Speech or even Dare to Be Badass. If it's directed at a hero, it usually overlaps with What the Hell, Hero?.

Compare You Monster!, which calls out the insulted character's heinousness rather than their lack of virtue or bravery. For other themed insults, see Adoption Diss, You Are Fat, Your Mom, Boring Insult, and Stink Snub. Contrast Fear Is Normal.

This trope is not to be confused with Dirty Coward (which is a character trait wherein the subject's cowardice is always disgusting and always causes harm to others), although there can be overlap.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba: Tanjiro screams a "The Reason You Suck" Speech at Akaza: calling Akaza a coward for daring to run from him, and contrasting it against Rengoku's decision to stand and fight to the very end when protecting his charges, calling out demonkind in the same speech by implying that demons in general are cowards for relying on their powers, Healing Factor, and the cover of night when they have the advantage in order to terrorize humans; while the human demon slayers fighting them are entirely mortal, yet they brave through fighting against demons at night, when demonkind have all the odds in their favor.
  • The Legend of Zelda (Akira Himekawa):
  • Magical Shopping Arcade Abenobashi: Played for Laughs in the War Episode. Sasshi and his sister are bearing down on some enemy tanks in nothing but a motorcycle and a sidecar. Sasshi's sister gives a speech about how sometimes you have to make a Heroic Sacrifice and wishes for Sasshi to never forget her. Then she spins the bike around so hard that Sasshi's sidecar breaks off and keeps going towards the tanks while she books it out of there. Sasshi calls her out on it.
  • Neon Genesis Evangelion: Misato gives several callouts to Shinji in some instances where he wants to no longer be a pilot; in The End of Evangelion, Misato's last words to Shinji are telling him to stop fleeing and wanting to kill himself and to instead make a choice.
  • Soul Eater: Lord Death calls Asura out on how the latter "hid[es] cowardice behind cunning" and has to lock up his fears and let them fester at the price of everyone else suffering, and to cap it off, Death declares that Asura isn't above sanity but simply doesn't have the belly for it.
  • Yu-Gi-Oh! ARC-V: As is typical with the franchise, Big Bad Zarc runs a deck full of extremely overpowered cards — many of which created by himself — which have an in-built counter for just about any move any opponent can do. While it does make it very difficult to fight him, the heroes deliver a "The Reason You Suck" Speech based on this. They point out that this level of Crazy-Prepared (keep in mind, most of the cast are Combat Pragmatists that indulge in this trope themselves) is not a mark of confidence in his power or rightful caution, but of cowardice, as he's too afraid of losing. Zarc does not take the criticism well.

    Comic Books 
  • Conan the Barbarian: In Conan the Avenger, Conan tells Prince Almuric that his choice to flee his homeland the moment King Strabonus didn't bowl over easily enough makes him nothing but a rich coward who isn't worthy to share a tavern bench with Conan.
  • Thanos has given Spider-Man a couple such Callouts under suspiciously similar circumstances twice:
    • Thanos invites Spider-Man to challenge him, but Spidey, overcome with sheer terror at facing someone who can fight the Avengers solo, flees instead. Outraged at this show of cowardice (especially because Mar-Vell, who found himself taken by surprise and was totally alone, fought to the bitter end), Thanos calls Spider-Man a disgrace and orders his followers to hunt him down, no longer interested in dirtying his hands against such a foe. Spidey fully intends to just hide out until reinforcements show up until he realizes: a) nobody's coming and b) since he's the only one left he has a responsibility.
    • Marvel Two-in-One Annual: In Volume 1 Issue #2, when Thanos invites Spider-Man to try his luck fighting him (after Thanos has just dispatched the Thing), the wall-crawler flees in a blind panic. Outraged at the show of cowardice (among other things, Spidey was leaving his friend behind to save himself), Thanos orders his forces to pursue the hero, again not wanting to dirty his own hands with so unworthy a foe. Spider-Man admits that Thanos is right (because he's terrified out of his wits) but manages to rally by reminding himself that he's the only one left to fight, returning and freeing the others.
  • Sonic the Hedgehog (Archie Comics): In Issue #192, Jules tells Scourge to his face that he's unafraid of the latter because he knows he's nothing but a coward alongside everyone else from his Mirror Universe, furthermore calling Scourge out on being a so-called conqueror who has to "sneak in in the middle of the night to get a leg up". It ends up sending Scourge away in tears.
  • Tekken: Blood Feud: Angel gives Jin Kazana a "The Reason You Suck" Speech about how he refuses to summon the guts to own up to his mistakes and has continued to let fear rule his heart and drive his every action when he had a choice to cast it aside.
  • Transformers:
    • Happens to Starscream at least twice in IDW Publishing's Generation 1-based continuities:
      • The Transformers Megaseries: In "Spotlight: Megatron", Megatron is repaired and revived following his defeat at the end of Transformers: All Hail Megatron, only to find that in his absence Starscream has essentially driven the Decepticons into the ground and turned an army that was on the verge of wiping out the Autobots into a miserable rabble, so desperately short on supplies they've resorted to cannibalizing each other for spare parts and Energon. During his "The Reason You Suck" Speech to a broken Starscream, Megatron points out the most disgusting thing about the whole affair is how Starscream is just too much of a coward to actually try to improve things other than token and vague commands to Shockwave and Soundwave. This finally reignites some sort of fire in Starscream, who begins fighting back.
      • The Transformers: Combiner Wars: After Cybertron is reformatted and Starscream begins taking a sort of leadership role in an uneasy alliance with the Autobots and Neutral Cybertonians; Starscream and Neutral leader Metalhawk are confronted by the Decepticon hardliner Turmoil, who curses Starscream as a coward and a traitor for trying to work with their enemies instead of destroying them. Turmoil calls Starscream a cowardly opportunist, whose only loyalty is to himself and pursuit of power. Starscream agrees, and then points out that Turmoil's mistake was giving an opportunist like him an opportunity. He then severs Turmoil's arm and splits his head in half.
    • The Transformers: Regeneration One: Kup decries Optimus Prime's unwillingness to take the possibility of a resurgent Decepticon faction seriously, which is implied to be a result of Optimus' horrific previous experiences when defeating Unicron causing him to shut out the idea that there are any loose ends where evil is concerned. Even after the Last Autobot is atomised by the Neo-Decepticons seizing control of one of Cybertron's Defense Satellites, Optimus refuses to take action. Disgusted with what he views as Prime's self-indulgent cowardice, Kup takes the Wreckers off-world to check on Earth — when Optimus finally arrives on Earth (which Kup discovered has been left an irradiated wasteland thanks to Megatron being able to rampage unopposed) to take action, Kup pointedly refuses to accept Optimus' apology because his cowardice and inaction cost the lives of countless humans (including Autobot ally Buster Witwicky and his wife Jessie) as well as several Autobots.
  • V for Vendetta: "Coward" is among the many insults that the title character levels at the entire population of Norsefire Britain during his iconic "The Reason You Suck" Speech broadcast. The crux of the speech is accusing the population of having no spine, declaring they are entirely responsible for enabling their current despotic overlords to get into power and start making all the decisions for them.

    Comic Strips 
  • Knights of the Dinner Table: In one early strip, Bob forces the party torchbearer to fight an attacking troll to save his own skin, to Sara's disgust. As the party prepares for the next adventure, Game Master B.A. announces that the torchbearer is quitting because he refuses to adventure alongside a coward. Bob responds by picking a fight that ends up destroying the local town.

    Fan Works 
  • Abraxas (Hrodvitnon): There's a few in this Godzilla MonsterVerse fanfiction:
    • Both Vivienne and San call Jonah a coward more than once, after they work out that he sent someone he genuinely cared about to their death but is too afraid to himself Face Death with Dignity.
    • Both Rodan and Ghidorah's middle head (Ichi/Eldest Brother) respectively call Thor a coward to his face, because of his past decision to flee and preserve himself whilst the rest of his kind died fighting Ghidorah. Thor's earlier internal thoughts confirm them right, as Thor admits to himself that he went into hiding just as much to preserve his own life as to prevent Ghidorah from seizing his power for itself.
  • Arkham Patient Sessions: Dr. Arkham, delivering a vicious "The Reason You Suck" Speech to Dr. Death, declares the latter hasn't tried to escape Arkhan Asylum at all because deep down he fears the entire RYS Speech will be proven if he sees contemporary Gotham, and that'll prove to him he's nothing.
  • Code Prime: In this Code Geass/Transformers crossover, there are a few instances:
    • In the illusion created by his Dark Geass, Megatron tells Charles that both he and his brother are nothing more than "two weak, pathetic, spiteful, cowardly little children" because of how they never grew past their fears like Megatron, Optimus and Lelouch did.
    • In Chapter 31, Kallen calls out Suzaku's Death Seeker tendency, telling him that sacrificing his life and failing to make any meaningful change with it is being a coward rather than redemption.
  • Fairy May Cry: In this Devil May Cry/Fairy Tail Fusion Fic, Dante tells the Edolas version of Erza (Erza Knightwalker) that she's a coward who picks on those weaker than her and has never faced a real challenge. It pisses Knightwalker off.
  • The Final Straw: In this DC fanfiction, Superman subtly accuses Batman of putting his own fears and insecurity ahead of summoning the strength to reach out for the sake of his own happiness.
  • The Katarn Side: In this Harry Potter/Star Wars fanfiction, Kyle Katarn calls Dumbledore a coward, perceiving his intention to place all his hopes on an eleven-year-old Harry as a cowardly alternative to "standing up for yourself".
  • The Mountain and the Wolf: Zig-Zagged by the Wolf. He frequently calls out Westeros characters for their cowardice, though his definition of cowardice is skewed. For the most part, it's mostly against people who don't fit the Norscan definition of bravery (i.e. willing and even eager to die in melee combat, because it brings the favor of their gods). Against Littlefinger and Ramsay it holds true, he accuses Euron of cowardice for attacking defenseless ships from a distance (but Euron also agrees to a duel with him), and he holds Missandei hostage and threatens to have her raped to death to motivate Grey Worm into staying and fighting him (and is quite happy to see that it works).
  • Now Die: In this Naruto fanfiction, Hinata thoroughly enrages Obito by telling him that he's but a coward because he fears going to the afterlife and seeing someone he let down.
  • Pokémpanions: Growing Apart: A variation in the chapter "Way Back When". Calvin the Dirty Cop threatens to arrest Carter if he doesn't allow Carnivine to marry Carla and Carter reluctantly concedes. Carla is furious and yells at him for selling her out to save his own skin. Subverted when Calvin reveals the next day that he didn't want to get arrested because he didn't want Carla to be without a guardian, as she was still a minor at the time.
  • State of the Meta: In this Yu-Gi-Oh! GX fanfiction, Erin "take[s] the liberty" of labeling all of Obelisk Force as cowards, because they failed to admit their own shortcomings after their ill treatment of Jamie was proven by Jamie's actions to be completely unfounded. They take it with their heads hung in shame.
  • A Student Out of Time: In this Danganronpa 3 fanfiction Ask Blog, Maiko Saionji tells her Jerkass mother Izumi that she's spineless for blaming her problems on others instead of taking responsibility for them, among a slew of other criticisms as part of a "The Reason You Suck" Speech.
  • The Umbra King: In this My Little Pony fanfiction, Rarity calls Sombra a coward for being so afraid of trying and failing to protect something that he'd rather never try at all and instead lean on the Nightmare Gem. It really gets under Sombra's skin.

    Films — Animation 
  • 9: 1 is on the receiving end twice over the course of the movie.
    • The first time, 9 decides he's had enough of 1's highly-dogmatic behavior, unwillingness to answer or do more than scarcely address buried secrets he knows about (which could tell them how to take the fight to the reawakened Fabrication Machine), and his preference towards strategic withdrawal above all else; declaring that 1 is "nothing but a coward". 1's brute 8 promptly moves to his master's defence, before an enraged 1 attempts to verbally shoot down 9's challenge to his leadership by himself, only for 9 to add on that 1 is "a blind man, guided by fear".
    • The second time, when 1 admits that he deliberately sent 2, a member of the group he claims to protect, out to his death for being "old" and "weak" and justified it as looking out for The Needs of the Many, an enraged 7 calls 1 a coward for the act and holds a blade to his throat. This time, 1 just glares back at her with a look that says "I did what I had to do".
  • Subverted in Aladdin. Aladdin calls Jafar a coward for not daring to fight a sword-armed Aladdin directly but instead using magic to confine Aladdin and disable all his friends. Jafar's response is to walk through a wall of fire towards Aladdin, transform into a gigantic snake, and begin attempting to kill Aladdin with his bare fangs and coils.
    Aladdin: Are you afraid to fight me yourself, you cowardly snake?!
  • In A Bug's Life, this is the climax of Flik's Rousing Speech to Hopper, who has been delivering a diatribe to the other ants about how their only purpose in life is serving grasshoppers. Flik refuses to accept Hopper's idea and, as he speaks, realizes that deep down, the bigger bug is terrified of the ants — they outnumber him and his fellow grasshoppers by thousands. This not only shatters Hopper's bravado but sparks the other ants to revolt and Zerg Rush the invading bugs.
    Flik: It's you who needs us! We're a lot stronger than you say we are...and you know it, don't you?
  • G.I. Joe: The Movie: Dr. Mindbender casually calls Cobra Commander out on his "frequent displays of cowardice" among the many criticisms of his incompetent leadership.
  • A Troll in Central Park: Gus calls Stanley a coward because the latter is too scared to fight Gnorga for fear of being petrified — even though his own powers give him something of a fighting chance against her and even when Gus's sister is in peril from Gnorga. This leads to Stanley pulling a Big Damn Heroes at the climax.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Balibo: José calls Roger "a fucking coward" who solely cares about himself and his career, unfavorably contrasting him to the five Australian journalists who had the guts to come and try to show the world the horrors that were happening.
  • Crazy Rich Asians: Astrid calls her husband Michael a coward for his insecurities and ego, telling him that it's not Astrid's parents' wealth that's the problem in their married life: it's him.
  • Interstellar uses its one PG-13-allowed F-Bomb very precisely when Cooper calls out Dr. Mann's colossal act of cowardice, which involved faking information that is now risking the one chance humanity has to save itself in a mission to save his ass (and unknown to Cooper at the moment setting the whole crew up to be murdered if they became obstacles to said survival):
    Cooper: You fucking coward.
  • Land of Oz:
    • The Wizard of Oz: When the Cowardly Lion bursts into tears after Dorothy yells at him for trying to bite Toto, she says, "You're nothing but a great big coward!". He replies, "You're right; I am a coward. I haven't any courage at all."
    • Oz the Great and Powerful: After Oz uses his "magical powers" (which are actually fireworks) to retaliate against Evanora the Wicked Witch Of The East and Theodora the newly formed Wicked Witch Of The West, Evanora becomes frightened by how powerful their heroic opponent actually is and she takes off running into the castle. Theodora, after suffering much abuse from her older sister, is quick to call Evanora out on her running away "And you said I was the coward!"
  • Marvel Cinematic Universe:
    • Black Panther (2018): T'Challa calls out his father and other ancestors on the Ancestral Plane for fearing the consequences of the rest of the world learning of Wakanda's Vibranium so much that they turned their back on the rest of the world's suffering and horrors for centuries.
    • Black Widow (2021): Natasha, when calling out her deep-cover parents, says that Alexei may be an idiot, but Melina is a coward for participating in the creation of the very same mind-controlling serum which Dreykov used on Melina's other deep-cover daughter.
  • In Muppet Treasure Island, Long John Silver's men after they see the Hispaniola heading straight for the island. Silver brings them back after calling them out for their cowardice.
  • None Shall Escape: Marja calls out soldiers of the Third Reich more than once when they try to justify themselves by saying they're Just Following Orders, outright telling them they're cowards for not having the guts to disobey once they figured out the orders they're following are wrong.
  • Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End: Elizabeth delivers an impassioned criticism of this type to Sao Feng, the Pirate Lord of Singapore, overlapping with the "You Used to Be Better" Speech, citing how the other Pirate Lords of the Brethren Court are uniting to wage war against the East India Trading Company, but Sao Feng sits and cowers in his bathhouse instead. Sao Feng is insulted by her accusations, but simultaneously impressed by her boldness, so he doesn't retaliate.
  • Saw VI: When William effectively sentences Josh, one of the Shotgun Carousel victims, to die, Josh calls him spineless among a tirade of other insults before meeting his end, and he hisses at William to look him in the eye as he's killing him. He has a point in that up until he got caught in Jigsaw's games, William never had to watch the deaths of his company's healthcare recipients whom he sentenced to potentially avoidable deaths based on a near-Darwinist company policy.
  • Silver Linings Playbook: Tiffany basically tells Pat that he's a coward and is afraid to be alive, because of how he's happy to hear about her intense life story but unwilling to live through anything like it.
  • Sputnik. Tatyana discovers that the alien is being fed with live prisoners. The doctor studying the alien protests that it's the military doing this and not him.
    Rigel: What, do you think I'm a monster?
    Tatyana: You're not a monster, you're a coward. A highly adaptive and hardy specimen.
  • Star Trek: First Contact: The Borg have taken over several decks of the Enterprise, assimilated members of the crew, and adapted to the weapons available. Picard insists they stay and fight and rejects Worf's suggestion that they evacuating the ship and setting it to auto-destruct.
    Worf: With all due respect, sir, ...I believe you are allowing your personal experience with the Borg to influence your judgement.
    Picard: You're afraid. You want to destroy the ship and run away. You coward.
    Crusher: Jean-Luc...
    Worf: (Death Glare) If you were any other man I would kill you where you stand.
  • Talk Radio: Among the long list of things Barry Champlain calls his show's listeners out on, he compares them to nightmare fetishist children who are obsessed with hearing about the nastiest things in the world but don't have the spine to face them without being hand-guided by a talk show host like himself, and he calls them spineless towards the end.
  • Titanic (1997): In a deleted scene, Bruce Ismay, the owner of the titular ship who jumps into one of the last lifeboats when no one's looking, receives a Death Glare from all the survivors whilst boarding the rescue ship Carpathia. Many of them are women who lost their husbands due to a strict 'women and children only' rule. Ismay looks noticeably ashamed and guilt-ridden after his 'walk of shame'.
  • Truth or Dare (2012): Paul condemns Luke as a coward after it's revealed that Luke is the member of their social group who sent the damning postcard which got all of them into the Nasty Party — as if getting strong-armed into becoming Justin's accomplice wasn't bad enough, Luke kept completely silent about the fact he was the person Justin was looking for among the group, even while his silence led to Justin putting Luke's friends through a nasty life-or-death game which has already caused one of them to die horribly.
  • Wonder Woman (2017): Diana calls Field Marshal Haig (who gets a Historical Downgrade) and the rest of the war cabinet cowards for not fighting on the front lines alongside the soldiers they sacrifice, contrasting it against how Themysciran generals in their position would conduct themselves.

  • The Dresden Files: In Dead Beat, Harry gets called out by his own subconscious for refusing help from the imprint of the Fallen Angel Lasciel in his brain. The subconscious version of Harry calls this refusal a form of suicide considering what he's up against, which is contemptible when innocent people rely on him to protect them. This assessment convinces Harry to accept the imprint's help.
  • The Famous Five: Bravery is very highly valued by the Five. In Five get into Trouble, the Five meet Richard Kent, a privileged boy who is very cowardly. Julian berates him very sternly indeed, telling him that anybody can help being a coward and that cowardice is thinking of your own miserable skin instead of somebody else's.
  • In the official novelization of Godzilla vs. Kong, Madison Russell rightly chews out her father Mark when he attempts to use pity for himself to emotionally blackmail her into obeying him; pointing out that Mark's authoritarian and insensitive parenting style isn't motivated by legitimate concern for her welfare, but by him being completely wrapped up in his self-pity and his terror of losing her to the point that he would rather smother his daughter into helplessness (or unwittingly sabotage his relationship with her while trying) than put what Madison needs (support, encouragement, and thoughtfulness from a father) ahead of his own insecurities and self-absorption.
  • Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows:
    • Harry learns that Lupin regrets marrying Tonks and fathering a child with her, and his offering support to the Power Trio is just a pretext for him trying to shirk his responsibilities to his family. Harry then proceeds to give Lupin a "The Reason You Suck" Speech that ends with him stating that he never would've thought Lupin, the man who taught Harry how to protect himself from Dementors, would be capable of such cowardice. Lupin at first lashes out and leaves — later in the book, it's indicated that he took Harry's point by getting back together with Tonks.
    • Professor McGonagall screams "Coward!" at Severus Snape after he spends a duel against her going on the defensive before moving to flee as soon as he's outnumbered by Professor Flitwick coming to McGonagall's aid — it's far from the only despicable thing Snape has done in recent memory that would make his colleagues loathe his guts. Subverted when Snape is revealed to have been a triple-agent who was secretly loyal to the heroes' cause all along, re-contextualizing his earlier interactions with his colleagues. Unlike the above moment, this moment is kept in in the film adaptation, although it's a blink-and-you'll-miss-it.
  • October Daye: In Be The Serpent, October calls Oberon a coward who shirked his duties after she learns that her friend Stacy is actually Queen Titania cursed to forget herself and live incognito while leaving no trace of her actual self, which has caused her to start murdering her children because they've manifested power far greater than ordinary changelings possess. Oberon is sufficiently chastized by this to agree to help October.
  • Project Hail Mary: Towards the end, the amnesiac Dr. Ryland Grace discovers that he didn't nobly volunteer for the Suicide Mission to another solar system after all, but tried to duck out by claiming he was more use teaching science. Stratt, who was in charge of the titular project, cuts this excuse dead by asking if he'd do more good by training a few kids, or saving all of them. Stratt calls him out for his cowardice and sends him on the mission against his will after drugging him to induce the amnesia. Remembering this exchange later prompts him to go back for a stranded Rocky, giving up the possibility of returning to Earth to save an alien species.
  • Sano Ichiro: The title character, when giving Tokugawa Tsunayoshi a "The Reason You Suck" Speech in public, straight-up calls him a coward who is unworthy of bearing the Tokugawa name. To everyone's surprise, the shogun agrees with Sano.
  • A Song of Ice and Fire: In A Storm of Swords, after Jaime loses his sword hand, and thus gives up his will to live, Brienne asks, "Are you so craven?" Jaime is taken aback, as for all the terrible things he did, no one ever called him a coward, but he realizes that he has reasons he must live.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Babylon 5: In "Moments of Transition", Delenn effectively calls the warrior caste's head a Miles Gloriosus for being more afraid of committing ritual suicide than of starting a Civil War.
  • Bang Bang, It's Reeves and Mortimer: Paul Barron, the owner of Barron's Nightclub, is prone to doing dodgy things for the sake of his club and refusing to face up to it when those things backfire, and the more level-headed Tony (who was brought up in Hong Kong and therefore combines Brutal Honesty and Asian Rudeness in one package) always calls him out for "having no balls for the job". One of the most defining moments is when Paul, decides to have Les Dennis replace Kinky John, the club's normal compere (a Hot-Blooded Cloudcuckoolander who talks and behaves like a parody of Vito Corleone), and instead of telling Kinky John himself, Paul asks Tony to do it while he "checks on the Doritos to make sure they're not damp". Tony is none too happy about this:
    Tony: You got no balls, Paul Barron! [to the camera] This is typical! Kinky John will take it all out on me, and I have nothing to do with this decision!
  • Being Human (UK):
    • Discussed in the Season 4 finale when Tom almost passive-aggressively calls the vampire Old Ones' werewolf agent Milo a coward. It promptly turns out that being called a coward of all things is Milo's Berserk Button, making him get physical — Milo admits he may be an opportunist and a Category Traitor, but after the extreme things he had to do to get accepted onto "the winning team", no-one calls him a coward.
    • In the penultimate episode, Alex brokenly and on near pure impulse stops a grief-fueled Tom from delivering a killing blow to Hal, who Tom and Alex believe has just killed Tom's crush MINUTES after Hal came back to his friends begging for their help. This move prompts a grief-fueled Tom to angrily hiss at Alex, "You coward!". The fact Alex makes it very clear moments later that she doesn't believe a word of Hal's exclamation before the save that he didn't do it seems to validate Tom's callout.
  • The Big Bang Theory: In "The Spoiler Alert Segmentation", after Amy discovers Sheldon doesn't want her living with him but he'd rather throw Penny under the bus than admit any wrongdoing, she calls him a coward to his face. Sheldon's response?
    "Well...! The evidence does support that."
  • The Boys (2019): In "The Last Time to Look on This World of Lies", Starlight calls A-Train a coward after she's discovered that he betrayed Supersonic's trust by selling him out to Homelander (with a predictable end result for Supersonic) in his desperation to, in Starlight's words, "be with people who hate [him]", and worse yet, he doesn't even have the balls to admit to it the moment she confronts him about it.
  • CSI: Miami: In "Skeletons", Horatio confronts Walter Resden's abusive pig of a stepfather, and he smoothly deconstructs the latter's boasting about how he's a Social Darwinist by inviting the stepfather to try hitting him. Comparative to all the terrified foster kids he tortured years ago, the stepfather can't bring himself to even try to land a hit to Horatio. Specifically, Horatio says the stepfather is nothing more than both a bully and a coward, emphasizing the latter word as if it's even worse than everything else.
  • The Cosby Show: Cliff calls his son Theo out for daring to say his father should accept his academic shortcomings as if getting poor grades are somehow the same thing as being non-heteronormative, telling Theo that he's afraid to try bettering himself and declaring that this won't stand.
  • Doctor Who: Zig-Zagged in "The End of Time" when the Doctor points a gun at the Master in the knowledge that killing him will save the universe from certain destruction. The Master angrily dares the Doctor to go through with taking a life so directly, hissing, "You never would, you coward". Although from the look in the Master's eyes a couple shots later, it seems he doesn't wholly believe his own accusation and/or he seems to realize he's misjudged how far the Doctor might go this time. Either way, the Doctor does refuse to break his rule against taking a life by finding a third option.
  • The Golden Girls: In the second episode, "Guess Who's Coming to the Wedding", Stan, Dorothy's ex-husband, comes to their daughter Kate's wedding. When the ceremony is over, Dorothy delivers an absolutely scathing "The Reason You Suck" Speech to him for leaving her after thirty-eight years of marriage. But as she puts it, it's the way he did it that truly angers her: he was too cowardly to say it himself and had his lawyer deliver the news by phoning her. As Dorothy tears into him, Stan simply sits quietly and hangs his head, knowing that she's completely right.
    Dorothy: You walked out on me, Stanley Zbornak! You walked out on me, and you didn't have the decency to tell me you were leaving. I heard it from some lawyer over the phone. A stranger, Stanley, a total stranger told me my marriage was over... I deserved better than a stinking phone call from my husband's legal representative. You had a choice, and you took the easy way out, and it was a rotten thing to do!
  • House of Anubis: Double Subverted late into season 2. Sibuna and Joy are playing a game of senet to reach the mask and rescue Nina, who got captured early on. Tempers begin to flare up as Fabian starts making decisions against Joy's back, despite her being the supposed leader of the senet game. After his refusal to follow one of Joy's orders gets both Patricia and Amber captured at once, the two of them are the only two players left. They have a brief, insult-laden argument where Joy, among other things, calls him a coward. After they patch things up and win the game, Fabian admits to her that he has been a coward — not in playing the game, but in confronting their troubled and increasingly awkward relationship throughout the season. Notably, this insult is the only one he acknowledges during his apology.
  • The Incredible Hulk (1977): In "The Snare," David is unwittingly drawn into a version of The Most Dangerous Game by an eccentric millionaire who wants to mount the Hulk's head and add it to his trophy wall. After the man drugs David and dumps him in the forest overnight with only a bag of food and flint, David calls him out for not playing his own game fairly.
    David: You've no right to call yourself a hunter, Sutton. A real hunter plays a fair game. You're a coward. You're afraid of a fair game. You only care about winning. That's all you want out of life, isn't it, Sutton, to win?
  • In the Flesh: In Season 2, Jem gets called a coward by a classmate who's vengeful that the former killed her rabid zombified father. This accusation comes after the classmate has retroactively proven her point when she persuaded Jem to confront a rabid zombie in the school and Jem was only able to piss herself and turn into a screaming, terrified wreck.
  • Las Vegas: Mary calls Danny a coward for running away from their potential relationship after they sleep together for the first time. Notably, Danny is leaving to join the Marines and fight in Iraq, making the c-word sting a little more.
  • Life On Mars: Sam Tyler tells the woman who led him into a honey trap on a local gangster's orders and then taunted him that she's a loser because she lives in utter fear.
  • Make It or Break It: In "Life Or Death", Payson and Lauren call new coach Darby a coward for failing at her responsibilities as a coach by, among other things, being too afraid to be tough and harsh when a firm hand is needed for the team's success, and for "walk[ing] away from a diss like that".
  • Mr. Robot: In Season 2 Episode 3, Elliot condemns the followers of organized religion during his scathing rant as nothing more than another kind of drug addict, "afraid" to face the reality of a universe where there's no higher purpose. The fact that one of the people of Elliot's church group whom he's expressing the rant to claimed to have seen proof that he was "forgiven" after committing a racially-charged assault retroactively proves Elliot's point.
  • Once Upon a Time: Rumple/Gold/Weaver has been on the receiving end a few times, and it's not unjustified — cowardice is a big theme with his backstory and character. Even his own son, who was young and was just about the only person who Rumple wasn't hostile or threatening towards at the time, called him a coward in frustration for being too afraid to accompany him through a portal as Rumple previously promised (this act of fear led to them getting separated across realms for a long time).
  • Red Dwarf: In "The Inquisitor", Lister calls Rimmer a "tremendous physical coward" while giving the latter an epic "The Reason You Suck" Speech.
  • Sharpe: In "Sharpe's Waterloo", the bungling, obscenely incompetent and glory-obsessed Prince of Orange rightfully gets called a coward by one of his own subordinates. Another subordinate promptly protests that His Royal Highness cannot be called a coward, at which point the first subordinate sums up the Prince's faults which say he objectively is a coward.
  • Star Trek:
    • Star Trek: The Next Generation: In "Man of the People", Picard calls the villain of the episode a coward for using telepathy to transfer his negative emotions to other people instead of dealing with them himself.
    • Star Trek: Deep Space Nine: In "Civil Defense", Dukat quite hilariously gets called a coward in a pre-recorded message left by his former superior Legate Kell, which was meant to be triggered if Dukat ever attempted to abandon his post — even though the station is no longer Cardassian-run, most of the message's content still fits the current situation which led to Dukat unwittingly triggering the message, and Dukat is rendered speechless afterwards.
      • When Dr. Bashir realises that Kai Winn is not discouraging Vedak Bareil from refusing treatment that would prevent him from assisting her in peace negotiations because she wants him in reserve as a scapegoat if talks fall through, he calls her a coward afraid to stand alone.
  • Supernatural:
    • In "Changing Channels", at the end of the confrontation with the archangel Gabriel, Dean deconstructs Gabriel's assertions that his older brothers' world-ending battle is inevitable and his personal justification that he just wants to get the damn thing over with already by saying that Gabriel's just making excuses to cover up the fact he's "too afraid to stand up to [his] family". Gabriel responds with a Death Glare and complete silence for the rest of the scene, and the next time he appears (and gets a repeat of the accusation from Dean), Gabriel admits that Dean was right and extends aid to help Sam and Dean stop the Apocalypse.
    • In "Don't Call Me Shurley", Metatron chews God/Chuck out upon realizing that the latter apparently threw up his hands and decided to let Amara devour all of creation the moment she was freed, hiding away in a bar where Amara can't destroy him and writing a memoir which no-one will be around to read. When Metatron calls Chuck a coward for all this, Chuck becomes furious to a terrifying degree. Ultimately, however, Chuck seemingly concedes to Metatron's point and moves to join the fight to save creation.
    "Now... I've been called many things. Absentee father, wrathful monster. But coward..."
  • Tales from the Crypt: In "Yellow", Lt. Martin Calthrop is already looked down upon as being a coward before a German attack on his squad without warning causes him to leave his men to die. He tries to convince his father, General Calthrop, that he did all he can to fight them off, but one of the mortally-wounded survivors comes in and reveals the truth of what happened, calling out the younger Calthrop over what he did. This results in Martin's own father executing his son with a firing squad.

  • Tim Minchin's "Come Home (Cardinal Pell)" places some verbal emphasis on calling the main character, supposedly too ill to testify against child sex abuse but also implicitly complicit in hypocritically covering up such abuse; a coward.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Warhammer Fantasy: This is Wulfrik the Wanderer's entire schtick, challenging enemy champions and important characters to duels by insulting them so badly that they're unable to refuse to get in a fight with him, especially if this would be a very bad idea for them. Although calling someone a coward is a good general-purpose insult in this setting, some characters fit the description, especially the Skaven.
    Face me if you dare, stunted whelp, or do you lack even an Elven maid's courage? I thought the Sons of Grungni were great warriors, but perhaps you are no true Dwarf. Indeed, maybe you are instead some breed of bearded goblin, though in truth, I have seen a finer beard on a Troll's back-side.

    Video Games 

    Visual Novels 
  • Danganronpa:
    • Danganronpa: Trigger Happy Havoc: Kiyotaka tells Mondo he's nothing but a coward at his core and it's why he doesn't know how to fix his problems or be a decent human being. Mondo's comeback is so lame, a severely inbred hillbilly could have formulated a better one; before Kiyotaka calls him a coward again.
    • Danganronpa V3: Killing Harmony
      • Kaito calls Kokichi a coward for always hiding his true thoughts, feelings and intentions and never trusting, and says he's just like Monokuma in that respect.
      • Kokichi Oma gives his classmates a "The Reason You Suck" Speech, accusing them of being too afraid to find a murderer by pointing fingers to the point that they hide behind trust and The Power of Friendship, and the way he words it means no one is able to counter his argument.
  • Dies Irae: This is part of Ren's "The Reason You Suck" Speech against Rote Spinne that the only reason he is doing anything for the Longinus Dreizehn Orden and is even trying to go against them is all simply due to his crippling cowardice in regards to the other members, especially it's upper echelons. He just wants to prevent their return so that he doesn't have to face them. Though later in the story when Ren sees just what kind of monsters the more powerful members of the Order are, he silently admits to himself that Spinne had every reason to be afraid.
  • Fate/stay night: Rin during the Heaven's Feel route tells Shinji that his I Just Want to Be Special motivations for acting like a magus and seeking the Holy Grail are signs that he's "a coward that wanted proof to hide [his] powerlessness".

    Web Animation 
  • Hunter: The Parenting: Kitten's "The Reason You Suck" Speech to Pyotr is based around Pyotr being a Dirty Coward, from attacking a child while the other vampires target the armed adult Hunters, to turning on his allies to diablerize them as soon as possible. It doesn't work, because Pyotr is unimpressed at the idea he should feel human things like shame. It does, however, annoy him enough to lure him into a minefield.
  • Red vs. Blue: Agent Washington calls Locus a coward while deconstructing the latter's Terminator act as something he hides behind because he's too afraid to take responsibility for his atrocities.
  • RWBY: In "Haven's Fate", Yang Xiao Long during her "The Reason You Suck" Speech to Raven Branwen tears down the latter's Social Darwinist delusions and exposes her for the Dirty Coward she is, calling her out on how she runs away when things get too hard and she's always letting others put themselves in danger for her whilst never returning the devotion. The fact that Raven reluctantly relents to allowing Yang, her own daughter, to take the Relic of Knowledge and in doing so put herself in Salem's crosshair so that Raven's own skin will be saved, puts the nail in the coffin and proves Yang's point.
  • Alador does call Cobalt out for this in Wolf Song: The Movie. To call Cobalt mad immediately afterwards is an understatement, the only reason he doesn’t go out of his way to kill Alador is because he has specifically been ordered not to by the Death Alpha, who is understandably unimpressed at the report. these orders aren’t able to stop Alador from dying of his wounds anyways.

  • Rain (2010): Rudy, when calling out Todd for the loathsome bully he is, points out that Todd has only been leaving the former alone due to Rudy's sister threatening him, and he thinks he's top dog the moment she's gone.
  • Weak Hero: Gray calls out the schoolteachers for going above and beyond to cover up the school bullies' violence because they feared the bullies' influential parents would damage the school's reputation if the bullies were brought to account.

    Web Original 

    Western Animation 
  • Avatar: The Last Airbender: In "Zuko Alone", Zuko rightly tells the Earth Kingdom soldiers who do nothing but cruelly bully and abuse the people they're meant to protect (particularly those of them who can't fight back) that the so-called soldiers are "sick cowards" for it. It pisses the soldiers into attacking before they're dealt with like the scum they are.
  • Batman Beyond: In "Out of the Past", Bruce scornfully calls out Ra's al Ghul on the sheer lengths the latter has gone to to save himself from death with his familial body-snatch and current efforts to possess Bruce.
    "You don't cheat death. You whimper in fear of it!"
  • Bojack Horseman: In "The Telescope", Herb spitefully tells BoJack that he's a "selfish, goddamn coward" while giving him a "The Reason You Suck" Speech about the sad and thoughtless excuse for a person he is. All BoJack can do in response to the accusation is bitterly (and unsuccessfully) try to get in the last word.
  • Codename: Kids Next Door: In "Operation: P.O.O.L.", when Numbuh Negative-Four brags to Numbuh Four that he's his exact opposite, he counters by saying that, if what he says is true, it means he's a coward.
  • Family Guy: In "Quagmire's Mom", Brian tells Quagmire that his horrible childhood thanks to his mother is no excuse for his serial sex crimes as an adult, commenting that it "seems kind of cowardly to blame someone else for [his] problems".
  • Final Space: In "Forgiveness", Gary says this to Avocato after finding out that he killed Little Cato's real parents, and kept it a secret for all these years instead of telling his son the truth as they grew close. Avocato doesn't take it well, and the two end up in a bloody fight.
    Gary: What? "Coward" gets you worked up? Go walk in there and tell the boy that you killed his parents! That you aren't even his real dad!
    Avocato: I...
    Gary: That's what I thought. You're a coward.
    Avocato: And you murdered Fox!
  • Glitch Techs: Five calls out Mitch on how the latter thinks he's better than everyone else because he's covering up his insecurities and is too afraid to risk being a team player.
  • Infinity Train: In "The New Apex", Grace has a nightmare of Hazel giving her a "The Reason You Suck" Speech for her manipulative behavior, calling her "a coward leading cowards". Indeed, Grace has had a few opportunities where she made the wrong choice and ultimately ended up hurting the ones she loves.
  • The Owl House: In "Agony of a Witch", after Lilith abruptly uses a captive Luz as a Human Shield in the midst of her and Eda's duel when the latter gains the upper-hand, Eda calls her a coward for the dirty move. To Eda's credit, Lilith has shown in the lead-up to the duel that she's willing to use dirty moves and low blows when desperate to get what she wants. Lilith doesn't seem fazed by her sister's callout, focusing on forcing Eda to expend her magic.
  • Rugrats (1991): In "Opposites Attract", Chuckie meets up with a boy named Freddie, who is cowardly like he is. Freddie manages to outdo Chuckie in having absurd phobias, such as being eaten by oatmeal, ants growing in size after getting wet, and mud people. However, what causes Chuckie to call Freddie out is when Freddie tells him about sand lizards, prompting Chuckie to say Freddie can't let himself stay afraid of everything.
    Chuckie: Wait a minute! First you tell me my oatmeal's gonna eat me, and I believed you because, you know, well, that could happen. But sand lizards? I've been in a bazillion sandboxes, except well, for that one time at Angelica's when Fluffy thought it was a big poop box. I never been a'scared of a sandbox in my whole life! I mean, you can't be afraid of everything, Fred! I mean, you gotta do somethin', sometime!
  • Scooby-Doo and Shaggy invert this in volumised fashion. In "The Ghost of the Red Baron," when Velma states this is no time for cowardice:
    Shaggy: It is! It is! We're devout cowards! Right, Scoob?
    Scooby: Right!
  • The Simpsons: In "The Yellow Badge of Cowardage", Bart wins the "last day of school" footrace, only to be publicly branded a coward after it's revealed that he allowed frontrunner Milhouse to get beaten up by Nelson (who bet money on Bart) rather than help him.
  • Static Shock: In the final episode, Talon (Teresa) calls Ebon out on how his desire to stop the mass De-power is motivated by fear that he'll be nothing if he loses his powers.
  • Young Justice (2010): In "Tale of Two Sisters", when Cheshire and Talia al'Ghul argue over their differing opinions about what's best for the child of a Shadow (Cheshire having at this point turned her back on the assassin organization), Cheshire judges Talia a "selfish fool" for her intentions to keep her own child with her at all costs. Talia, visibly irked by the comment, fires back by saying Cheshire is a coward for giving up her own child and going out of her way to avoid having any contact with the girl out of fear that she'll "taint" her (something which Cheshire's sister and the child's father have called her out on).


Video Example(s):


So What If I'm Not You?

Mortally wounded by JSDF soldiers breaching NERV, Misato takes a despondent and despairing Shinji and uses the last bits of her strength to try and inspire Shinji to pilot the EVA one more time. When that doesn't work and Shinji instead says that she doesn't know what it's like to be him, Misato calls him out on his cowardice and how living in a world of suffering that everyone else lives in isn't a reason not to act.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (8 votes)

Example of:

Main / CowardiceCallout

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