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Give Me a Reason

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"You wanna settle down now? Please say 'no.'"
Hawkgirl, Justice League, "Hereafter"

Alice has Bob more or less where she wants him. There's no need for violence to enforce her will, and there are a dozen ways it might be a bad idea. That doesn't mean that, knowing she shouldn't, she doesn't want to. She goads, provokes, pushes for any excuse to beat the crap out of him. And if Bob so much as twitches in the wrong direction, he winds up with a sword at (or in) his throat. Alice may even tell him to go ahead and make her day.

This is an instance where one character is begging for an excuse to be violent to another, verbally or otherwise. This can overlap with Implied Death Threat if Alice doesn't want to merely hurt Bob, but kill him. Has a similar, but opposite effect to Don't Make Me Destroy You, where Alice doesn't want to hurt Bob, and doesn't want the provocation, but certainly will if given. May be framed as a choice of The Easy Way or the Hard Way, with Alice nudging Bob toward "the hard way".

Has nothing to do with a romantic Stock Phrase where a character begs their love interest to "give me a reason to stay." See also Dog-Kicking Excuse.


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    Anime And Manga 
  • In the original Tenchi Muyo! OVA, episode 4 (the original Hot Springs Episode), Tenchi tries to interrupt Ryoko and Ayeka's faceoff. They both glare angrily at him, and he backs off.
  • Rebuild World:
    • Sergeant Rock Shirakabe does this when an insubordinate trainee hunter under his command, Katsuya, tries to derail their patrol mission to answer a dangerous Distress Call, ranting about all the ways Katsuya has angered him with his arrogance and hotheadedness.
    • After Akira gets his Tranquil Fury Berserk Button pressed during a negotiation with Chloe, by learning that she had threatened and stole from some of his close friends, Akira tells her to just try doing other things that anger him one after another. Since Chloe has Akira in an elaborate trap, she issues the threats he asks for right to him.

    Comic Books 
  • Darth Maul. The title character wants to duel and kill Jedi padawan Eldra, but both of them get betrayed by Xev Xrexus and are forced to fight alongside each other, earning Darth Maul's respect before he kills her. Maul then goes to kill Xev Xrexus who wants to know if he's come to avenge Eldra's death. Maul is angrily denying to himself that he would ever avenge a Jedi, but then Xev Xrexus says that she knows he's a Sith so he gladly kills her on that pretext.
  • In Sillage #4, when the protagonists are ambushed by the antagonist , which turns out not to be evil:
    Moneva: I have your spawn of the devil [at my mercy]! Lay down your weapons!
    General Rammasz: And if we refuse?
    Moneva: You would cause grief for you... and joy for me!
  • Thunderbolts: A Brainwashed and Crazy Moonstone calmly announces she's going to kill Doc Samson. Samson replies, with genuine joy:
    Doc Samson: I don't believe it. You gave me an excuse.
  • Lucky Luke: One story has Luke kidnapped by the Daltons and a German proto-psychiatrist, the latter telling Joe to shoot Luke if he does anything suspicious.
    Joe: He's grinning! He's grinning! That's a suspicious move!
    Herr Doktor: Now now, Joe, don't be childish.
  • X-Factor (2006):
    • In the first issue, Siryn chases and corners an assassin of Singularity Investigations who has killed a mole that was feeding X-Factor information about the company. Theresa is not subtle about just how much she wants to do some damage to the assassin.
    Theresa: Oh, try it! Please! Don't surrender! Aim at me! I dare you! Try to shoot me! It'll be funny! C'mon! C'mon!
    • In Issue #19, the team have captured the Blob who is a member of the terrorist group known as the X-Cell. When the Blob says he won't tell them anything, Monet says he hopes he doesn't because that means she can use her telepathy to rip the information out of his head while leaving him a catatonic husk.

    Fan Works 
  • Inverted in Deku? I think he's some pro...: after Bakugou nearly crippled Izuku during the Heroes vs. Villains exercise, Aizawa demands Izuku give him one good reason why he shouldn't expel him on the spot.
  • The Night Unfurls: Obviously, many dark elves are not happy with Olga sacrificing Loraine to the orcs, which caused untold suffering to the people she was supposed to protect. One of them is Demeter, who is now the leader of a group of those dark elves that are now refugees and liberated slaves. When the two meet, Demeter, becoming impatient, eventually says a variation of this trope to Olga.
    Demeter: Tell me... Your Grace. *clenches fists* What is stopping me from slitting your throat right here and now?
  • Rosario Vampire: Brightest Darkness Act V: Jenner Rythmore, head of the Human Defense Agency founded in response to The Unmasqued World, openly admits to his subordinates in chapter 20 that he's just waiting for any possible excuse he can use to declare open war on the monster world, having previously expressed open hatred and distrust of all monsters.
  • This Bites!:
    • Following the PR disaster that was the Straw Hats' attack on Enies Lobby and the exposure to the world about what happened to Ohara, Sengoku makes it clear that the only reason he's not locking up Akainu in Impel Down as a means of smoothing things over is because his powers make him too useful in fighting pirates. That said, he also makes it clear that Akainu is being reassigned to the New World to keep him out of the public eye, and if he even tries to resist these orders then Sengoku will discharge and arrest him on the spot. Akainu wisely keeps his mouth shut.
    • It's established during the Sabaody Revolution arc that the Revolutionaries would love to lend a hand in the War of the Best - but the Revolutionaries are focused on fighting tyranny, and in the end, Ace committed numerous legitimate crimes that make his execution fair in the eyes of the law, so they can't get involved without undermining their cause. As a result, when Sengoku admits that the Navy and Government are only killing Ace because he's Roger's son, Cross points out that there's no law saying it's illegal to be related to a criminal. With the execution now reframed as an act of tyranny instead of justice, Dragon, Koala, Sabo, Hack, and Karasu leave to help almost immediately.
    • After the War of the Best, Marshall D. Teach is confronted by the recently recruited Byrnndi World over the aftermath with intent to mutiny. Teach thanks World for the treachery, since now he doesn't have to justify killing World to steal the More-More Fruit for himself after Ace ruined his chances to claim the Tremor-Tremor Fruit.
  • In the My Little Pony: Totally Legit Recap for 'A Matter Of Principals', Starlight Glimmer revs a Wave-Motion Gun at Discord and quotes this trope verbatim. He doesn't even get to finish calling her gay before she releases it and kills him.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Poor Boy's Game.
    Chris Webb: You give me an excuse, Donnie. You give me one fucking excuse!
  • Sudden Impact features one of Dirty Harry's most iconic lines, delivered to a bad guy who's holding a woman at gunpoint:
    Dirty Harry: Go ahead...make my day.
  • From The Jewel of the Nile (likely riffing on the above Dirty Harry line) when a gun-toting Ralph turns up to have a word with the hero about the events of the previous movie.
    Ralph: Go ahead. Gimme a reason. Make my year!
  • Take the Lead
    Principal: Keep talking. Give me a reason to kick your butt out of my school. Give me one.
  • Predator. Anna (the captured guerilla) tries to escape from Dillon, her captor. After she's recaptured he says to her "Try it again...please", a threat of what he'll do to her if she does.
  • The Street Fighter's Last Revenge has Terry do this to Frankie Black before a deathmatch that ends with Terry burning the latter to death.
    Terry Tsurugi: Hey, Black... come on.
  • Tombstone: Wyatt Earp and his gang have gone on a Roaring Rampage of Revenge to kill every member of the Cowboys. When they manage to ambush a few of them at a flophouse, this exchange happens:
    Wyatt Earp: (brandishing his gun) Don't move!
    Doc Holliday: (also brandishing his gun) Oh no, please. By all means, move.
  • The Frisco Kid: The bad guy is knocked flat by Rabbi Avram, losing his gun in the process. As he scrambles to get it, Harrison Ford's character Tommy, the Lancer, shoots it and keeps knocking it out of reach. Finally, Tommy shouts, "You reach for that gun again and I'll blow your head off." After explaining why Avram was forced to kill the guy's brother (they were ambushed and the brother would have killed both Avram and Tommy in cold blood), Tommy yells to the guy, "Reach for it....Please!" Luckily for the guy, Avram was able to resolve the conflict. "I'll take San Francisco, you take the rest of America."
  • Star Trek III: The Search for Spock: After the Klingon commander Kruge kills his gunner for having destroyed the Grissom instead of disabling it, his first officer calls for his attention while he's still in full bloodlust mode.
    Kruge: (whips around, pointing his disruptor) Say the wrong thing, Torg!
    • Fortunately for Torg, he says the right thing: there are survivors on the Genesis Planet which he can take hostage.
  • Lost in Space Major Don West uses this on Dr. Smith in the 1998 film.
    West: Give me an excuse to kill you. Please.
  • A great line from Robocop 3:
    Paul McDaggett: How may I help you, officer?
    Robocop: By resisting arrest.
  • In Showdown in Little Tokyo, when Murata and Kenner go to arrest Yoshida at a Japanese bath house, Kenner lists his various crimes and tells him to come with them to the station or give him a reason to blow his head off.
  • The Hateful Eight essentially consists of eight dangerous people trapped together in a cabin who all feel this way towards at least some of the other seven.
  • Who Framed Roger Rabbit: During Roger's Big Damn Heroes moment.
    Judge Doom: Put that gun down, you buck-toothed fool!
    Roger Rabbit: That's it, Doom! Give me another excuse to pump ya full of lead!
  • Law Abiding Citizen: Just because Nice Rice is making a plea deal with an utterly irredeemable murderer/rapist for the sake of a solid conviction, does not mean he has to like it, or really wish he had an excuse not to. Especially when said piece of shit obliquely inquires about his family.
    Nice Rice: (whispering) Please fuck this up so I can destroy you.
  • Captain America: Civil War: Everett Ross, played by Martin Freeman, gives us this line in a calm-ish manner to a prisoner:
    Everett Ross: Raise your voice, zap. Touch the glass, zap. You step outta line, you deal with me. Please, step outta line.
  • Sky High (2005): Layla won't use her powers except in self-defense. One of the villains, believing their side has already won and that Layla's a wimp anyway, slaps her just to be petty. "Big. Mistake."

  • Ramou Lazarian from A Company of Stars is an unusual one - since he's promised to only use his considerable martial arts abilities in defense of others, he goads bullies and would-be tough guys by acting over-the-top nice - in essence, inviting them to take a swing at him so he can then have an excuse to trash them. A typical exchange is "Thank you." "For what?" "Making it self-defense." BOOM.
  • In Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, Snape uses those exact words when threatening escaped prisoner and longtime nemesis Sirius Black.
    "Give me a reason," he whispered. "Give me a reason to do it, and I swear I will."
    Black stopped dead. It would have been impossible to say which face showed more hatred.
  • Thud! has Vimes wishing that a bunch of dwarves he sees in the street would give him a reason to arrest them. He was really pissed at dwarves for warmongering against trolls, and also for trying to kill him and his family.
    • The City Watch's motto is "FABRICATE DIEM, PVNC" (see Dirty Harry above).
  • In The Talisman, Captain Farren is clearing out drunks and vagabonds who are taking advantage of the fact that a stagecoach filled with ale has tipped over. One man chooses this particular time to try and throw his weight around, and Farren almost eagerly invites him to start a fight, because "carving you will be the best thing that's happened to me all day".
  • In Game Of Thrones, Sam recounts how his father forced him to join the Night's Watch so that Dickon could become the heir. His father said that, if he didn't leave for the Wall immediately, Sam would be found dead from a 'hunting accident', adding that "nothing would make me happier".

    Live Action TV 
  • Brooklyn Nine-Nine: In "Maximum Security," the 99 is trying to lure out a crime boss' man in the FBI with a fake funeral for Adrian Pimento. When they spot the man and he starts to run, Diaz corners him and draws two batons.
    Diaz: Please make me defile this church.
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer
    • In "Ted," Joyce gets involved with the eponymous Ted, who acts like a nice guy in front of Joyce and Buffy's friends, but is an ass to Buffy herself and threatens her when they're not around. When he reads Buffy's diary and slaps her, Buffy is happy to have an excuse to fight back. (Unfortunately she knocks him down the stairs and kills him, or so it appears).
      Buffy: I was so hoping you'd do that.
    • In "Becoming, Part 1", Principal Snyder uses this on Buffy in the context of giving him a reason to expel her.
  • In the Murder, She Wrote episode "The Cemetery Vote", when Carroll tries to make a break for it, one of the other staff members steps in his path and tells him he'd enjoy the opportunity to knock him flat if he'd like to try running.
  • In the Star Trek: The Next Generation episode "The Defector", the Enterprise is staring down three Romulan Warbirds and gets this from the Romulan Commander. Tomalak never gets to make good on his threat, as Picard then signals a fleet of cloaked Klingon Birds-of-Prey that were surrounding them the whole time.
    Tomalak: First, Captain, you will return the traitor Jarok, then you will surrender as prisoners of war.
    Picard: Do you seriously expect me to accept those terms?
    Tomalak: (smirks) No, Captain Picard, I expect you won't.
  • Star Trek: Deep Space Nine: Major Kira pulled this on Damar in the episode "Favor the Bold". After being given an excuse. Guess what happens.
    Ziyal: It should be obvious, even to you, Damar, that I am not a true daughter of Cardassia!
    Damar: What is obvious to me is that your father should have left you to rot in that Breen prison camp. But he didn't. He took pity on you. And it's your duty to repay him! Now, come with me! (grabs her arm)
    Kira: Let her go.
    Damar: And if I don't? What happens then?
    Kira: I was hoping you'd ask. (proceeds to beat the ever-loving tar out of Damar)
    • Damar gets her back in the next episode, when he has Kira, Jake, and Leeta arrested. He can see her first instinct is to try and fight her way out and outright dares her to do so.
    Damar: In here. Secure the door. Ah, Major! There you are. How nice of you to gather all your friends for us.
    Kira: I'm off-duty, Damar. What do you want?
    Damar: I want you to come with us, all three of you.
    Kira: Where?
    Damar: The security office. We have to ask you a few questions.
    Jake: What kind of questions?
    Damar: You'll find out when we get there.
    (Kira sizes up the room - they're surrounded by armed guards)
    Damar: Go ahead, Major. Try something. Nothing would make me happier.
  • In the Johnny Ringo episode "Die Twice"
    Johnny Ringo: Make a move - give me an excuse.
    Boone Hackett: I got my hands up.
    Johnny Ringo: Put one of 'em down - that's all it takes to draw.
  • Babylon 5:
    • Ivanova does this often:
      Sinclair: Commander, please remove Major Kemmer from C&C.
      Ivanova: With pleasure. (Beat) You are going to resist, I hope.
    • When the mole who shot Garibaldi in the back is arrested, the arresting officer invites him to "make my solar year".
  • In the Doctor Who episode "Utopia", Chantho points a gun at the Master. The Master was probably planning on killing her anyway, but upon having a weapon pointed it him, his observation is that now he can claim he was provoked.
  • In an episode of The Shield, Shane tries to goad a gang leader who has blackmail material on him into attacking him, so Shane can murder him and claim self defence.
  • Spoofed in The Daily Show. In one episode, the correspondents mock overly aggressive journalists by surrounding random people on the street and demanding they answer questions. In one segment, a correspondent insists "we can do this the easy way, or the hard way", and another comes up with a baseball bat and says "please, pick the hard way".
  • Detective Logan did this a few times in the early seasons of Law & Order. One episode included a thug who was trying to scare tenants into moving out of an apartment building. Logan found the thug using a hammer to break the lock on an old lady tenant's door. Logan confronted him with gun drawn and repeated the trope line word for word. Wisely, the thug chose to surrender instead.
  • In Star Trek: Picard, Riker, reinstated into Starfleet as Acting Captain and leading a fleet of top-of-the-line starcraft, urges the Romulan Oh to give him a reason to fight her own Romulan fleet after he points out that thanks to Picard, Ghulion IV, where a synthnoid colony lays, is now under Starfleet protection. He almost gets that reason, but Oh chooses to withdraw after the beacon calling the higher synthnoids is deactivated.
    Riker: General, or Commodore, or whatever you're calling yourself, right now, I'm on the bridge of the toughest, fastest, most powerful ship Starfleet has ever put into service, and I've got a fleet of them at my back. We've got our phasers locked on your warp cores. And nothing would make me happier than you giving me an excuse to kick your treacherous Tal Shiar ass. But instead, I'm going to ask you one stand down.
  • The Boys: In season 3, Homelander gives a bone-chilling speech to Starlight about what he will do if she publishes the video of him leaving the passengers of Flight 37 to die.
    Homelander: Go ahead. Release it. Let's light this candle, huh? I mean, sure, I'll lose everything, but then, I'll have nothing to lose. First, I'll take out the nerve centers: the White House, the Pentagon, then any domestic defense capabilities, and then critical infrastructure like cellular, Internet. That kind of thing. And then, well, I think then, I'll just wipe New York off the fucking map. For fun. I'll even throw in Des Moines and that little cousin-fucker hick town that Maeve's from, 'cause why not. See Starlight, I'd prefer to be loved, I would, but if you take that away from me... Well, being feared is a one okie dope by me. So, go ahead, partner. Do it!

  • "Glory Box" from Dummy by Portishead has the following line:
    Give me a reason to be a woman, I just want to be a woman.
  • Downplayed in Poets of the Fall's "The Ultimate Fling" where the physically hypercombative tone and demand to "Give me a reason" is a metaphor for initiating the Breakup of a relationship.
  • "Give Me a Reason" by Three Days Grace is a variation of a Break Up Song where the narrator asks his abusive partner to give him a reason to finally end their relationship.
    Give me a reason for disaster
    And I’ll be happy ever after
  • Carla Ulbrich's "Please Do Something Stupid" is a variation, with the narrator reluctant to commit to a relationship and looking for a reason to get over it.

    Video Games 
  • In one of the last levels of Uncharted 2: Among Thieves, you team up with a man who has already betrayed you once or twice. It is one of the only levels where you do not have a gun, while shooting mooks is basically 70% of the game. Here, HE has the gun. If you taunt him by trying to punch him in the face, he will first punch back, and tell you "Just give me one reason, Drake!". You can obviously try again, just to see...
  • Two instances abound in Mass Effect 2. The first is an Elcor bouncer at the door of the Afterlife Club on Omega who responds to an irate human threatening violence with the following said in monotone, “With barely constrained fury … try it!!” The next instance occurs when Shepard visits a Clan Urdnot camp. Every Krogan over there except for the Clan Leader, a merchant or a mechanic “greets” Shepard with either “Watch it, human!!” or “Give me a reason!!” This isn’t so much because Shepard is on thin ice with the clan, it is because Krogan males spend their entire life just looking for any small reason to fight.

    Visual Novels 
  • In Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney – Spirit of Justice, Phoenix visits the Kingdom of Khura'in, a kingdom that outlawed defense lawyers by giving them the same sentences as their clients in the event of the latter's conviction, and proceeds to win the first "Not Guilty" verdict in 23 years. Inga, the Minister of Justice and the one responsible for the law, is not amused, and notices that while Phoenix is outwardly polite to Inga, he doesn't like Inga very much. After Inga notes that being the queen's husband makes him king, Phoenix thinks that the queen is still in charge, prompting Inga to suggest that Phoenix say what's on his mind so that Inga can charge him with lese-majesty.

    Western Animation 
  • An Adventures of Sonic the Hedgehog episode has Sonic decide to let Scratch and Grounder catch him to spring a cartoonist from jail from the inside. But not before fucking around with them for a while first, including a scene with him on a scaffold dressed as a window washer. Of course, this couldn't have been invoked at all if they weren't standing directly underneath the scaffold to begin with.
    Scratch: Hold it right there, Hedgehog!
    Sonic: Boy, you guys are fast! You must've taken your vitamins today!
    Scratch: Shut your yap!
    Sonic: Okay, I will!
    Scratch: Feet apart!
    Grounder: Hands on top of your head!
    Scratch: NO!
    Sonic: (directly to the camera) I was hoping he'd say that. (does as he's told, releasing the scaffold wires and dropping it on top of them)
  • Avatar: The Last Airbender: In "The Boiling Rock", the corrupt warden of the titular prison orders a prisoner to stand with his back turned before using his bending to blast fire at him. The man turns quickly and deflects the blast using a little bending of his own. Because its understandably illegal for anyone besides the guards to use their bending, the man is taken into custody and placed in The Cooler.
  • In The Avengers: Earth's Mightiest Heroes, Hulk went on a rampage and was locked up. Red Hulk replaced Hulk on the Avengers. Captain America didn't trust him, so he helped Hulk escape imprisonment. The Red Hulk showed up (with the Avengers) and demonstrated this trope.
    Red Hulk:You are under arrest for treason against the United States government. You can come quietly or you can resist. Please resist.
  • A Charlie Brown Christmas has one where Linus asks Lucy to give him a reason to memorize all of his lines for the Christmas play.
    Lucy: I'll give you five good reasons. ONE, TWO, THREE, FOUR, FIVE! *makes fist*
    Linus: Those are good reasons. Christmas is not only getting too commercial, it's getting too dangerous!
  • The Dastardly & Muttley episode "Have Plane, Will Travel" has the Vulture Squadron stationed on a deserted island, using material at hand to stop Yankee Doodle Pigeon. When another of Klunk's inventions lands them in the water, he says to swim for the island:
    Dick Dastardly: Give me one good reason why I should swim all the way back to that island.
    Klunk: I'll give you (clicking sound effects) four. (Sharks approach them)
    Dastardly: Sharks!!! Let's start swimming!!
  • Generator Rex episode "The Hunter"
    Rex: What's your damage, man? I was this close to curing that thing!
    Hunter Cain: Didn't look that way to me, filthy E.V.O.!
    Rex: "Filthy E.V.O.?"
    Hunter Cain: Give me a reason. Just one.
    "Give me a reason, give me one good reason..." Laughs "Only kidding! Like I need a reason."
  • Justice League:
    • In the episode "Hereafter", Lobo crashes Superman's wake, and is eventually subdued by the rest of the League. Hawkgirl, however, really wants to keep hitting him, resulting in the page quote.
      • Lobo himself has done a variation of this: "Now, the more you struggle, the more this is gonna hurt. So, feel free to go crazy."
    • Hawkgirl is a fan of this:
      "We gonna do this the hard way, Lex? Please say 'yes.'"
    • The episode "The Once and Future Thing: Weird Western Tales: Part 1" has Batman facing off with a cowboy, armed only with his utility belt.
      Batman: Go ahead - give me an excuse.
  • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic: The Mane Six weren't keen on Celestia's plan to reform Discord but did it out of loyalty to their princess. As soon as they release him from stone they make it clear that if he even appears to be up to his old tricks they will immediately turn him back to stone.
  • In the Transformers: Animated two-part season one finale "Megatron Rising", Blackarachnia reacts to Sari trying her patience when she lies to her about leading her to the AllSpark by remarking "Give me one excuse" in a tone making it clear that she's begging for Sari to provoke her into harming her.

    Real Life 
  • The trial of Denver Fenton Allen eventually turned into a shouting match between the judge and Allen, who at one point threatened to masturbate and ejaculate upon the judge, and the judge dared him to do just that. Needless to say, if Allen had attempted to approach the bench after making such a threat, the bailffs would have tackled him, and that was probably the judge's idea.

Alternative Title(s): Provoke Me Taunt