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Dodgeball Is Hell

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"Dodgeball is a sport of violence, exclusion, and degradation."
Patches O'Houlihan, DodgeBall: A True Underdog Story

It seems that in fiction, whenever a kid goes to gym class, the mean gym teacher or coach will make them play dodgeball, much to the delight of The Bully and the despair of the nerds and unpopular kids. Enough balls to resemble a Bullet Hell game will ensue.

Despite not being a particularly dangerous sport in Real Life, in fiction, dodgeball is as close as you can get to a Blood Sport without any actual death (...usually). Somehow, the inflatable balls weigh as much as a ton of bricks in TV Land. It's not uncommon for students to come out of the gym with injuries from nosebleeds to broken bones, and the perpetrators never seem to get in trouble for it.

This trope can often seem like Truth in Television to some kids, which is where the trope comes from in the first place. A more specific form of Gym Class Hell.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • Honoo no Toukyuuji: Dodge Danpei is an entire anime series based on this.
  • Negima! Magister Negi Magi, a dodgeball game occurs very early on in the series between class 2-A and a class of older girls. Notably, the numbers game provides no advantage, especially since most of the girls involved are not the class Action Girls. Class 2-A eventually wins but the toughest participant, Asuna, does suffer some bruises after a member of the other team hits her repeatedly even after she's been knocked out.
  • Fate/kaleid liner PRISMA☆ILLYA has an epic dodgeball match between Illya and Dark Illya, complete with a Double Knockout.
  • Kotaro Lives Alone: In episode 4 of the Netflix show, Kotaro ends up on the receiving end of this trope during a game of dodgeball at this school. He is covered in bruises and band aids in the scene following the game. Though it was largely due to him being unable to catch the balls thrown at him, and he refuses to dodge them since he considers it impolite.
  • A subarc of the Greed Island arc of Hunter Hunter involves Gon, Killua, Bisky, Hisoka and some minor characters in a dodgeball game. The players on the other team throw the ball with sufficient force to break bones. The players on the heroes' team, however, are battle-hardened people with lethal superpowers themselves. The captain of the opposing team, Razor, is so powerful that he inflicts The Worf Effect by his mere presence and is the only person shown so far to genuinely put Monster Clown Hisoka on edge.
  • Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha A's had a chapter in its supplementary manga where Nanoha and Fate played dodgeball against Alisa and Suzuka. It ended with Fate getting knocked unconscious by a dodgeball thrown by the resident Shrinking Violet / Passionate Sports Girl, Suzuka.
  • My Monster Secret takes it to hilariously extreme lengths (as it always does) by putting the homeroom teacher Koumoto Akari against the entire class, thanks mainly to Akane pressing her Berserk Button. Even with the students allowed to use weapons and shields, they're still at a crippling disadvantage. The chapter features various military strategies to try and defeat her, all in vain. It also features an epic climax after Sakurada reveals that he will confess his feelings to Akari if they win the game. It doesn't work.
    Genjirou: Is this what PE classes are nowadays?!
  • Miss Kobayashi's Dragon Maid: Taken to extremes when Kanna, Tohru, Lucoa, and Fafnir (all of whom are insanely strong dragons) take on some guys who were bullying Kanna's friend Saikawa in a hilariously one-sided game of dodgeball. Then they decide that they enjoy playing and have a super-powered free-for-all which leaves the surrounding area in ruins.
  • One Piece: In the anime, the first round that the straw hats play against the foxy pirates in the second davy back fight is a game of dodgeball.note  Not only do the balls have clear spikes on them, but a ball launcher is also allowed to be used to make the blows more brutal. The game also has many rules such as a rule where blows to the face don't result in elimination, and eating the ball does.
  • Spy X Family: Mission 15/Episode 10 revolves around Anya and the other students doing a dodgeball game on the hopes of receiving a Stella Star. Their opponent on the opposing team, Bill Watkins, manages to take down most of them with throws that bounce off each of them.
  • In Tomo-chan Is a Girl!, the intramural dodgeball tournament rapidly degenerates into this. Tomo overdoes things from the outset during tryouts to the point where the other girls beg the coach to intervene, but when faced with a fundamentally sweet kid's earnest refusal to insult her opponents or the person who trained them by not taking a contest seriously she could only resort to having her compete with the boys... who fare only marginally better (if at all).
    Tomo: (knocks boy off his feet) "Feel my wrath and sorrow...."
    Random Opponents: "What was that throw?!" "I dunno, just run!!"
    Tomo: "Running away?! You call yourselves men?!"
  • Bludgeoning Angel Dokuro-chan has the "dreadful pioneering dodgeball game" played with an extremely heavy basketball. Not even Sakura is safe.

    Comic Books 
  • In Freddy vs. Jason vs. Ash, Dave is killed by demonic dodgeball players led by Coach Freddy.
  • Babymouse: In one of the graphic novels, the plot revolves around the title character's dread of an upcoming dodgeball game in PE.
  • Supergirl: Cosmic Adventures in the 8th Grade: Shortly after entering Stanhope School, Linda Lee has to play dodgeball. And since all her classmates are hateful jerkasses, they gang up on her. Linda lampshades she is taking damage despite being invulnerable.

    Comic Strips 
  • This shows up in FoxTrot due to Jason reminding the teacher about the assignment she forgot to collect and not getting that maybe his classmates might have some frustration to vent.
  • Calvin and Hobbes: This comic transitions out of a Spaceman Spiff escaping-the-alien-starfighters sequence into... dodgeball day in gym class.
  • Crabgrass: In a February 2022 story arc, during a game of dodgeball, first Miles and Carla get taken out by multiple balls at once, and later, when only Kevin and Maxine are left standing, the gym class floor is filled with unconscious students.

    Fan Works 

    Films — Animation 
  • This happens in Chicken Little. They even divide the teams into "popular" and "not popular".
  • In the prologue of Megamind, the title character (as a child) is pelted with dodgeballs during recess. It doesn't even appear to be a real game as it's just every other kid in the class ganging up on one child, laughing and calling him a freak. Happens a second time, leading him to get in trouble for his method of self-defense getting out of hand.
  • In Turning Red, this is subverted as when Mei and her friends play dodgeball in gym class, Mei's bully, Tyler only taunts Mei verbally; he is never shown throwing a ball at her. However, Mei does throw one very hard at Tyler's head. Hard enough to give him a Close-Call Haircut and break the window behind him.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakquel, which follows the chipmunks going to high school, has a dodgeball scene where both Simon and Theodore get the shit knocked out of them by dodgeballs- thrown by the token school bullies- whilst Alvin barely makes it through the game by catching a ball thrown at him.
  • Ben 10: Race Against Time: When Ben goes back to school after summer vacation ends, he goes to gym class to play dodgeball. Ben lost the game when he got hit by various dodgeballs.
  • In both the original film and musical adaptation of Hairspray, Tracy gets knocked out by a dodgeball. In the new movie, it's a throwaway gag, but in the original, it's a major plot point: Link asks her out after it, and Penney and Seaweed bond when they rush over to help her.
  • In DodgeBall: A True Underdog Story, the training that the heroes receive is steeped in Serious Business and makes it appear as if dodgeball is hell. The actual sport is pretty childish, which is the point of the film.
  • Billy Madison did this when he's against the entire first-grade class.
  • In the 1981 horror film Fear No Evil, the teenage Antichrist actually killed a fellow student in a game of dodgeball.
  • In St. Vincent (2014), when Oliver's bully goes after him in a game of dodgeball, he snaps.

  • Dork Diaries: The main Fractured Fairy Tale plot of Book 8 kicks off when Nikki gets hit in the head and knocked out by a dodgeball in gym class, which turns out to be a Fever Dream Episode all along.
  • Played with in Freckleface Strawberry and the Dodgeball Bully. The main character dreads playing dodgeball against a boy named Patrick, who throws the ball hard, but when she actually gets hit, she realizes it doesn't hurt nearly as much as she thought.
  • Zigzagged in Lions & Liars. The book starts with Frederick being smacked in the face with a dodgeball so hard, his nose swells up. However, during the game at Camp Omigoshee, he not only outlasts the other kids, but actually wins the game for his team.
  • Percy Jackson and the Olympians: In the second book, The Sea of Monsters, Percy at first thinks that gym class is just going to be this, but it turns out that the other team is actually made up of giant cannibals, so it actually is a fight to the death. And said cannibals are fighting with giant flaming cannonballs, so it's literally hell.
  • Swindle: Since the students can't be trusted with sticks or bats at the academy, dodgeball is their only alternative. Griffin is quickly made a target.
  • The Twilight Saga has Bella dealing with a similar situation in her gym class, which she tried to opt out of but couldn't. Haters just love the panel from the manga showing her get smacked in the face with a volleyball.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Comes up in an early Buffy the Vampire Slayer episode, where a gang of toughs (and Xander) get turned into hyena-people.
    Coach: God, this game is brutal. I love it.
  • Ned's Declassified School Survival Guide has an episode that focuses on this. Naturally, Loomer and his lackeys enjoy the game and are more than pumped to bring the pain. Ned hopes that Moze would be their ace in the hole against them, but she claims to have given up the sport after supposedly injuring Coconut Head in a previous game to the point he bled and spit out teeth. If that wasn't bad enough, Cookie is recruited by Loomer to play on his team after seeing Cookie have a good throwing arm. In the end, it turns out Coconut's injuries were just coincidental (He suffers from chronic nosebleeds and the "teeth" were really Tic Tacs). Once Moze realizes this, she pulls a Big Damn Heroes in the final part of the game when only Ned is left against Loomer and his goons.
  • Supernatural: Undercover as a gym teacher, Dean forces the kids to play dodgeball. "The whistle makes me their God."
  • Appears in the first episode of Freaks and Geeks, where the titular geeks get pummeled by the jocks on the other team.
  • 30 Rock, the episode "Lee Marvin vs. Derek Jeter," Liz goes to a Singles Dodgeball event to look for love and ends up pummeling a cute guy because she's too bitter to try to be nice.
  • An episode of Glee features dodgeball in a light-hearted musical number between the New Directions and Troubletones... before it ends with some of the Troubletones viciously pelting the new Foreign Exchange Student with dodgeballs until he starts to bleed. This causes Kurt to change his campaign focus from fighting obesity to banning dodgeball.
  • Pair of Kings: Brady and Boomer were victims of this kind of bullying in flashbacks.
  • Battle For Money Sentouchuu is basically this as a game show, with ninja themes and cash on the line.
  • In Welcome Freshmen, Coach Roach announces that they'll play dodgeball with a bowling ball. The students talk him into something less dangerous, but still far from fun.
  • An artifact in Warehouse 13 is a self-propelling and multiplying dodgeball that was used in military training under the premise of "if you can dodge a ball, you can dodge a bullet". The only way to stop it from killing you with blunt force trauma is to catch it.
  • Law & Order: Special Victims Unit: In "Sick" Finn and Munch once walked into a gym with a game of dodgeball in full swing and shared their memories of it. Finn loved it; Munch, not so much.
    Munch: Dodge Ball?! Haven't they outlawed this barbaric practice yet?...I literally weighed 98 pounds. I can still hear them. 'Break the pencil!' I was a walking bruise.
  • One episode of Even Stevens focused on this. Ren was trying to get the sport outlawed in school, as coach Tugnut kept encouraging the kids in gym class to be as brutal and inflict as much pain as possible in the game. Ren's friend Nelson was absolutely terrified that he would run out of excuses and be forced to play, while Ren's rival Larry started campaigning against her to keep dodgeball in gym class. Eventually, Nelson ends up playing and actually enjoys it, while Ren, Larry, and coach Tugnut all team up to pummel Louis (who had previously pulled a prank on Ren) with dodgeballs.

  • The rather extreme professional dodgeball match in the music video for Autoerotique's "Asphyxiation".

    Pro Wrestling 
  • SummerSlam 2004 featured a game of "Diva Dodgeball" pitting the Team Diva (the women of the WWE main roster) vs. Team Dream (the girls from the Diva Search). Team Diva got massacred.


    Video Games 
  • In Beavis and Butt-Head for the Game Boy, when passing through the school gym, Buzzcut will do a little dodgeball with Beavis before he can proceed.
  • One stage of Osu! Tatakae! Ouendan features a one-on-one dodgeball game between average elementary schooler Torao and his Jerk Jock rival Ryu. Set to Tomoyasu Hotei's "Thrill", and with needlessly awesome visuals out of a kung-fu movie.
  • In the Alcatraz Elementary level of Nightmare Ned, entering a shortcut to the Medical level requires Ned to endure dodgeball on the way, getting pummeled in the head with each shot.
  • This is as good a reason as any for why Gym in Bully focus on dodgeball and wrestling as part of its classes, coached by Mr. Burton. While it isn't possible to lose in the wrestling matches (which are solely present to help unlock new melee attacks), you're teamed up with the nerds in every dodgeball game and anybody hit by the ball gets slammed rather violently to the hardwood floor. Of course, since the player controls not just Jimmy, but the whole team, you can lead the Nerds to victory, even if Jimmy himself is eliminated.
    Mr. Burton: Alright, you feckless maggots, we're gonna be playing dodgeball for the next while. Ah, dodgeball... How I love the sound of boys crying in the morning. Much like real life, the strongest will prevail. Alright, you lazy bums, look alive!
  • Kindergarten 2: When on the Nugget story, Nugget will ask Ms. Applegate to have the class play dodgeball. The other students prove to be capable of throwing the balls hard enough to knock your head clean off.
  • In Lapis Re:LiGHTs, the students of Flora Girls' Academy play a magical version called bumpball. The rules are largely the same except each player can cast one spell from one type of spell and the only limit is how creatively you can use it. The "Hell" part comes from it being perfectly legal for students to throw the ball so hard it can break noses, send people flying from impact, and even knock them unconscious, leaving them in dire need of magical medical attention.
  • Scribblenauts Unlimited: In the "Inkwell High" stage, you earn a shard by giving a student protection against dodgeballs.

    Web Comics 
  • In JL8, the kids learn that their new gym coach will be Mr. Darkseid, who decides that their first activity should be dodgeball. He sends the balls out against the terrorised children the same way as he does his Omega Beams.
    Mr. Darkseid: Children. Welcome to gym class. We will begin with dodgeball. DODGE.
  • Paranatural: Coach Oop says that the board has forbidden schools from playing Dodgeball, but they didn't forbid his original sport Hitball. Similar to dodgeball, but with a lot of balls at the same time and the inclusion of the Golden Switch which causes a hit student to switch sides instead of getting eliminated. The entire trope is exaggerated while the students play hitball as the arc gets increasingly complicated. Jeff is possessed by Hijack, causing him to become violent and dangerously strong as Hijack tries to get him to cause the minimum required damage to get sent to the office. Suzy blackmails Max, the student council attempts to sacrifice the bullies to take out Jeff, Jeff tries to frame Isabel, the vice-principal makes a fake student who gets killed in front of everyone, Cody proves to be an obstacle in taking down Jeff and most of the students retreat to the bleachers to avoid certain doom. And just in case it wasn't clear, it all takes place during a seventh-grade gym period.

    Western Animation 
  • Craig of the Creek: In "Dodgy Decisions", the kids all meet up to play dodgeball until they are pitted against each other.
  • Dave the Barbarian: One of the death traps Fang sets up for Dave in "Floral Derangement" consists of blindfolded kids throwing dodgeballs.
  • Taken to literal extremes in South Park, where they're forced to fight a Chinese dodgeball team who are trained from birth to be living dodgeball-armed weapons and who are capable of actually killing their opponents. Thankfully, Pip becomes a Dodgeball savant when he gets pissed off over people calling him French, a quirk which the boys weaponize by tricking the Chinese kids into setting him off.
  • The Simpsons: "My Fair Laddy" begins with a new PE teacher, Mr. Krupt, who didn't even bother to let the kids play dodgeball, he just spent the entirety of every class throwing dodgeballs at them himself, which he calls "Bombardment" ("Bombardment! Bombardment!"). For Christmas, they're doing "Double Bombardment!" The same teacher seems to like throwing things at people in general because he's shown later throwing rolls at Groundskeeper Willie after Willie got a job in a fancy restaurant (making Willie into a gentleman being the main plot of that episode).
  • Hilda: In "The Sparrow Scouts", the group initiate every new member with a game of dodgeball, but it's subverted when everybody enjoys the game, and those who get hit don't suffer any kind of injuries.
  • One of Total Drama Island's challenges is a dodgeball match in which several characters are knocked off their feet and even struck unconscious by thrown balls, all Played for Laughs.
  • An early episode of Dexter's Laboratory had this with Dexter forced to participate by his gym teacher (he had tried to get out of it with a forged excuse letter but the teacher ripped it up). Dexter finds himself constantly targeted by bullies every gym class. Eventually, it hits Dexter that he is a boy genius, so he builds a dodgeball mecha to finally get even... only to get beaned by DeeDee.
  • The Powerpuff Girls:
    • The Powerpuff Girls enemies the Gangreen Gang pelt a bunch of kindergarteners in a game of dodgeball, taking advantage of the fact that the girls are not allowed to beat them up at school. Ms. Keane manages to find a loophole around this by telling the girls to go outside and "play dodgeball" as well.
    • In The Powerpuff Girls (2016) episode "Princess Buttercup", Buttercup joins a gang of tough roller derby girls who play "deathball", which is very rough dodgeball with rollerblades. (Meaning it's Buttercup's kind of game.)
  • Spongebob Squarepants: Patrick apparently had a harrowing experience when writing a poem during gym class.
  • In one episode of The Fairly OddParents!, Timmy arrives at school after missing the bus and having to walk in the rain. He's greeted to gym class by his classmates holding dodgeballs in a game of "Drys vs. Wets". As you can imagine, he's the only one wet one there.
  • In Invader Zim: 'Bludgeonball! It's fun!. The two kids playing it are strapped with shoulder-mounted rocket launchers filled with dodge balls.
  • Recess, in typical fashion, plays this trope to the hilt, including gratuitous slow-motion shots, excessive drama, and an incredibly good player named "El Diablo" *whip noise* who turns out to be Gus Griswald of all people.
  • Taken to the extreme in Courage the Cowardly Dog, where Eustace arranges for all of Courage's enemies to join together in one big dodgeball game that almost kills Courage.
  • In Monsters vs. Aliens, Susan singlehandedly takes on Team Alien on a no-holds-barred game of dodgeball. Seems she channeled her anger at being picked last as a kid into being a relentless dodgeball player; the aliens underestimated her at their peril.
  • The episode "Leggo My Meg-O" of Family Guy, starts with all the girls in Meg's gym class targeting Meg in a game of dodgeball.
  • The episode "Ed in a Half-Shell" of Ed, Edd n Eddy plays with this trope. Eddy has the gang play dodgeball while babysitting Jimmy, and Double D's reaction plays this trope completely straight, to the point where he undergoes a Heroic BSoD after having gym class flashbacks (said incident is theorized to have inflicted a head injury so horrendous, he covers it up being wearing his trademark hat 24/7) and collapses into a fetal position.
  • Taken to the extreme in Codename: Kids Next Door, which has a dodgeball-based parody of the Wuxia film Hero (2002). A villain named the Dodgeball Wizard seeks out the ultimate player known as "The One". After defeating a temple that specializes in this, he's directed to Wally Beetles a.k.a Numbuh 4 who he thinks is such a fighter. He isn't (he's knocked out cold in one hit before their game even starts), but his baby brother, Joey, is. Cue a massive dodgeball game across the city.
  • The Mixels episode "Every Knight Has Its Day" introduces the game "Murpball", which is dodgeball with the twist of Murping the knocked-out student. Mixadel naturally chooses all the strong students for his team, leaving Camillot with the weaker ones. He also has the upper hand with students Mixing to cheat or using his own team members as shields...and still ends up the unfair winner.
  • A sketch from Cartoon Network's MAD shows Pinocchio realizing that life as a real boy isn't all that great. When he attends gym class, he gets hit in the face with a dodgeball so hard that his head gets stuck in the wall.
  • The Amazing World of Gumball episode The Mustache is where Tina's gym team challenged Gumball and Darwin with these and they buff up to challenge her back.
  • A variant in the Hey Arnold! episode, "Curly Snaps"; Curly has been looking forward to being the ball monitor for weeks and snaps when he finds out that Sid has been chosen instead of him. He takes all of the school's dodgeballs and takes over Principal Wartz's office, refusing to come out unless his demands are met, and pelting anyone who tries to stop him with dodgeballs.
  • Rocky Kwaterner: in "A Fantastic Party", during a neighborhood party, Rocky proposes they play a prehistoric game from his old tribe called 'crush tribe', which is basically dodgeball but with a rock and where trying to knock your opponents out cold is actually the purpose of the game. Luna manages to convince Rocky to use a ball instead of a rock, making it more like modern day dodgeball, but even with a ball Rocky still proves himself capable of knocking out people. Fortunately, nobody suffers lasting injuries and the other players even end up liking this version of dodgeball.
  • Downplayed in Ballmastrz: 9009. The Game can best be described as a Blood Sport mix of dodgeball, roller derby, and any sport that involves scoring by getting the ball into the other team's goal, but Death Is Cheap thanks to the healing chambers.



Tobey wants to stop time in order to never play dodgeball again.

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