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Insult Friendly Fire

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Mr. Satou: So you would prefer to live with two cripples instead of with your own family?
Lilly: If you insist on calling them cripples, then that means you consider me one as well. Is that what you're saying?

Alice explicitly insults Bob... without realizing that the insult applies equally well to Charlie, whom she most certainly did not mean to insult. Why did she do it? Maybe she didn't think in the heat of the moment, Charlie sneaked in, or Charlie has been hiding the trait that Alice unknowingly insulted. Charlie bears the full brunt of Alice's insult plus the sting of having a friend do so (whether knowingly or not).

Alice may attempt a Verbal Backspace by saying "Present Company Excluded" or "No offence [intended], Charlie." This is also why you don't use Your Mom jokes on your siblings.

See also Insult Backfire, Insult Misfire, Contempt Crossfire, and You Know I'm Black, Right?. Also compare More Insulting than Intended, Oblivious Guilt Slinging and Insult to Rocks. Not to be confused with Friendly Fireproof.

If that insult actually hurts, it's Weapons-Grade Vocabulary. If Charlie is surprisingly unaffected, it's a Milholland Relationship Moment.

Compare Oblivious Mockery, which is more humorous. See also Some of My Best Friends Are X, when the friendship is used as an excuse.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • Played for Laughs in Attack on Titan when Eren shouts at Rod Reiss' Titan form, calling him a "tiny old man" before gasping in horror when remembering that Levi (who's 5'2" and over 30) was right behind him.
  • Kaguya-sama: Love Is War: When Kashiwagi and Maki meet up at a restaurant over winter break to discuss the latter's trip to India, they end up talking about how stupid some people are for believing that crystals can have special powers. Unbeknownst to both of them, Tsubame is sitting the next table over and actually had been scammed into buying one of those crystals earlier that day.
    • In 263, Maki and Kaguya argue, Maki calls Kaguya for flirting with a commoner, Kaguya strikes back bragging about their perfect sex life. Then Ishigami, Iino and Fujiwara show up, having heard everything. Ishigami calls Maki for referring to Shirogane as such, but they all complain for Too Much Information. At this point of the story, everyone present but Kaguya is unhappy due to their failed love life, so Kaguya's bragging was very cruel for them.
  • In Naruto, Sakura insults the main character for being an orphan, claiming that his Bratty Half-Pint nature is due to him not having parents to discipline him, not realizing, or more likely forgetting, that Sasuke, her crush and the person she's talking to, is also an orphan after his older brother massacred his entire clan. He immediately chews her out over it, telling her she has no idea what she's talking about.
  • In the manga adaptation of Persona 3, when Junpei brings up the revenge website that Strega operates, Yukari dismisses them as rumors, saying that he should focus on his studies instead, since "only losers spend all their time staring at a computer screen." Fuuka ends up getting depressed that Yukari thinks of her as a loser, prompting Yukari to hastily say that Fuuka's an exception as an intelligent honor student.
  • Sword Art Online: Asuna's mother Kyouko refers to the SAO survivors as "kids who spent two years killing each other" in front of Asuna, who immediately points out that she is one of them.
  • Vampire Knight has the protagonist telling another character that she understands now about how vampires can be seen as subhuman beasts to be exterminated like vermin, only to find out about half a minute later that he's a vampire himself. She later feels incredibly guilty about this, despite the fact that the other character gave no indication he'd even heard her (he was distracted enough at the time that he might not have), let alone cared or disagreed.

    Comic Books 
  • One two-part Spider-Man story starts with Spidey dropping by to help the Fantastic Four fight a mob of ugly-looking demons. The Thing clues him in that Doctor Strange knows about the demons, and that they're called the Mindless Ones.
    Spider-Man: Mindless Ones? We're fighting hockey fans?
    Thing: HEY! I like hockey!
  • The Transformers: More than Meets the Eye:
    • Whirl, being the massive Jerkass he is, repeatedly does this deliberately, using insults that he knows full well will offend friend and enemy alike, such as disparaging monoformers while sitting next to Rung, who’s a monoformer in all but name.
    • Brainstorm manages to do this to himself a few times, casually using slurs directed at cold constructed bots despite being one.
    • Similarly, after joining the crew Megatron keeps insulting them by saying things like "You Autobots", apparently forgetting that he himself is now an Autobot.

    Comic Strips 
  • In a Peanuts comic during a baseball game, with Lucy in right field:
    Lucy: Come on, he's no hitter! He hits like my grandmother!
    [a purse hits Lucy in the head from behind her]
    Lucy: Sorry, grandma... It was just an expression...

    Fan Works 
  • In a This Time Round story in which Spike from Buffy the Vampire Slayer meets his counterpart from The Hero of Three Faces Show Within a Show St Pudentiana the Faerie Bane, Nails, he says "Stolen any babies lately?" and Nails comes back with "Eaten any babies lately?" Spike starts to come up with a comeback to that but then stops, realising that any insult to Nails that isn't specifically about being a faerie also applies to him.
  • In Sword Art Online Abridged, Kirito is not impressed with Rosalia's claim that her guild is feared by players on the lower floors, and responds in his typical way, either forgetting or just not caring that Silica is right there:
    Rosalia: Laugh all you like. We're still one of the most feared orange guilds on the lower floors.
    Kirito: Ooh, impressive. You can intimidate players that think slimes are terrifying.
    Silica: Have you seen their eyes? They have no souls!

    Films — Animation 
  • In Hotel Transylvania, a hilarious scene happens between Dracula and his friends in the sauna. As Count Dracula indirectly insults both Frankenstein and The Invisible Man (much to his confusion) when he was actually talking about Johnny. A human, who is disguised as Frankenstein's cousin and also has red curly hair.
    Wayne: When's that Johnny kid gonna be done party planning? He's a great hang.
    Frankenstein: Yeah, he's an animal. And it was so nice seeing Mavis laughing and hitting it off with him.
    Dracula: [visibly annoyed] Who's hitting what off? Please. Mavis could never be with someone of his kind.
    Frankenstein: [offended] l'm sorry? "His kind"? You're saying our kind's not good enough for you, "Your Lordship"?
    Dracula: No, no, no! Frank, l didn't...I meant that she wouldn't be into someone with such red, curly hair.
    The Invisible Man: [also offended] What's wrong with red, curly hair?
    Dracula: [confused] Why are you getting upset?
    The Invisible Man: [angrily] I HAVE RED CURLY HAIR!
    Dracula: [even more confused] WELL HOW AM I SUPPOSED TO KNOW THAT?!
  • In Shrek, Shrek overhears Fiona asking Donkey, "Who could love a hideous beast?" Shrek assumes she's talking about him and is hurt, when in fact she was talking about herself, leading him to act angry toward her. Thankfully, it's cleared up pretty quickly when he sees the hideous beast she was talking about.
    Shrek: Well... that explains a lot.
  • In The Simpsons Movie, a Code Black emergency is declared, prompting Lenny to remark that "black is the worst color there is." He immediately apologizes to Carl, who is black.
  • In Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, Gwen insults Kingpin's tasteless decision to hold a dinner in Spider-Man's honor, complete with his wife in attendance and waiters dressed as Spider-Man, when he's the one who killed him.
    Gwen Stacy: What a pig.
    Spider-Ham: [offended] I'm right here.
  • In an earlier version of Turning Red, Mei was going to run for class president against Tyler and the debate would have involved Mei making fun of Tyler's braces which Miriam also has resulting in this.
  • In Zootopia, after Judy has concluded the press conference:
    Judy: Oh, that went so fast. I didn't get a chance to mention you or say anything about how we...
    Nick: [bitterly apprehensive] Oh, I think you said plenty.
    Judy: What do you mean?
    Nick: [quoting Judy's remarks] "Clearly there's a biological component? That these predators may be reverting back to their primitive savage ways?" Are you serious?
    Judy: I just stated the facts of the case! I mean, it's not like a bunny can go savage.
    Nick: Oh, but a fox can, right?
    Judy: Nick, stop it! You're not like one of them!
    Nick: Oh, so there's a them now?
    Judy: You know what I mean, you're not that kind of predator!
    Nick: [defensively] The kind that needs to be muzzled? The kind that makes you believe that you need to carry around fox repellent? Yeah, don't think I didn't notice that little item the first time we met.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • In Amistad, Hammond scoffs at former president John Quincy Adams, saying "Is there anything more pathetic than an ex-president?" He is unaware that his own boss, President Van Buren (who is about to lose re-election), is right behind him.
  • In The Jewel of the Nile, Omar has the hero and his love interest in a deathtrap. After explaining said deathtrap, the hero asks what kind of sick mind would think of something like this. He copied it from a novel the love interest wrote.
  • in Patton, a German officer notes that Bradley has a modest demeanor, unusual for a General, which gets him a glare from the German General in the room.
  • A meta-example appears in Weird: The Al Yankovic Story. When Ben Scotti (portrayed by Will Forte) starts heavily insulting Al, Ben's younger sibling Tony (portrayed by the real "Weird Al" Yankovic) keeps wincing in pain.

  • In Princess Academy, the quarrying village on Mount Eskel has a saying that when something is thought useless it’s “skinnier than a lowlander’s arm.” Whenever Miri, who’s unusually small for her age and assumes that’s why she isn’t allowed to work in the quarry, hears this, she wants to dig a hole and crawl into it.
  • Vorkosigan Saga: In "Winterfair Gifts", Armsman Roic tells his new friend Taura about an encounter with a swarm of gene-modified bugs, and winds up with a comment about exterminating the grotesque genetically engineered monsters — having temporarily forgotten that Taura is herself a grotesque genetically engineered monster.
  • In Book 8 of Wings of Fire, Winter objects to the team freeing Darkstalker not only because they don't know if he's really a good dragon or an evil one pulling a False Innocence Trick, but because of his weird and scary powers. Cue Moon and Turtle pointing out that they also have some of those same powers.

    Live-Action TV 
  • In The Apprentice, Lord Sugar comments "You know what women are like" (in reference to a group of bickering female candidates). His aide Karren Brady is less than impressed.
  • In Barry, Barry's drama class, unaware that Barry is a hitman, calls Macbeth a complete monster for committing murder on his wife's orders. Even worse, his attempt to defend Macbeth ends with him blurting out that he's also killed people, but everyone thinks he's talking about his tours in Afghanistan; Cousineau promises that they'll be more sensitive about his military service, then adds "But if you kill outside of war, you’re a fucking psycho. Then you’re irredeemable."
  • In the Charmed episode "The Wedding from Hell", when Allison and the Charmed ones confront Jade D'mon at her attempted wedding to Elliot, Allison's boyfriend, Jade greets Allison with "Why, you little witch!", to which Piper says "Hey!".
  • On Criminal Minds, Elle manages to accidentally insult the team's antisocial Boy Genius, Reid, while profiling an UnSub in the very second episode of the series:
    Elle: I say student. You need self-confidence to lecture in front of a classroom full of 30 college kids. Arsonists are socially incompetent. This guy doesn't go on dates, doesn't go to parties, doesn't feel comfortable in front of groups....
    [Reid gives Elle a strange look]
    Elle: And of course he's a total psychopath.
    Reid: Of course.
  • Flipped sideways by The Drew Carey Show: While Drew hangs out in his backyard with friends, his neighbor Greg Clemens walks up with a live horse. Drew is not pleased:
    Drew: Hey, Clemens. What has four legs, attracts flies, and shouldn't be in my yard?
    Greg: [pointing to Drew's friends] Oswald and Lewis.
Drew can't respond properly at this point, because every insult he thinks of applies to his two best friends. Backfire and Friendly Fire all in one. Poor guy.
  • Friends:
    • Ross and Rachel are having a fight in front of everyone. In an effort to attack Ross, Rachel refers to a previously raised issue by saying, "And just so you know, it's not that common, it doesn't happen to every guy and it is a big deal!", at which point Chandler jumps forward and says, "I knew it!"
    • Another example from the same fight:
      Rachel: And those little spelling tips will come in handy when you're home on Saturday nights playing scrabble with Monica!
      Monica: Hey!
      Rachel: Sorry!
    • In another episode, Joey attempts to criticize the life choices of his pregnant, unmarried sister while not offending the also pregnant, also unmarried Rachel. Eventually, after going back and forth between the two, he gets frustrated and shouts "One pregnant lady at a time!"
    • And again when Ross is looking for a new place to live and it is suggested he gets a roommate. In a room full of people who live with someone else he refers to having a roommate as "Pathet..." Death Glare "That's pathet which is Sanskrit for really cool way to live."
  • In General Hospital, Maxie does everything to put down Winnifred, calling her a geek with no fashion sense and pretty much belittling her in front of Spinelli. Seeing as how Winnie's basically a female version of Spinelli, you can imagine how he takes it.
  • The Imperfects: Later in the series, Juan and Tilda have gotten frustrated enough with the plot's tendency toward Morally Ambiguous Doctorate that they start insulting scientists at the drop of a hat. Abbi, who shares the circumstances that cause them to dislike scientists, but is also training to become one, has a few issues with that attitude. The two others No True Scotsman her out of the "scientist" category rather than go the Present Company Excluded route.
  • The Ninja Turtles: The Next Mutation episode "The Guest" has Splinter find out that his blind friend Andre has been evicted from his apartment. Andre refers to his landlord as a rat, unaware that his friend Splinter is a mutated rat.
  • Alison manages to insult herself in the second episode of Orphan Black, when, after being ambushed by Sarah, who wants answers, she tells Sarah to "hide your ugly mug on the way out of here." She may have been referring to Sarah's haircut, but since they're genetically identical clones...
  • In Smallville, Clark regularly has to remind his parents and Chloe that he is also Kryptonian when a new villain springs up and they start talking about how all Kryptonians are bent on death and destruction.
  • In the Star Trek: The Original Series episode "I, Mudd", McCoy complains about a new crewmember and manages to insult Spock in the process.
    McCoy: There's something wrong about a man who never smiles, whose conversation never varies from the routine of the job, and who won't talk about his background.
    Spock: I see.
    McCoy: ... I mean that it's odd for a non-Vulcan.
  • In the Stargate SG-1 episode "Redemption Part 1" O'Neill starts to say the reason he doesn't want Jonas Quinn on the team is that Jonas an alien. Then he realises halfway through the sentence that he is talking to Teal'c who is a team member and somewhat more alien than Jonas.
  • On Tattletales whenever Dick Gautier was on the panel with his wife Barbara Stuart, and the question is directed to the husbands:
    Bert Convy: Men...and you too, Dick...
  • That's So Raven: In "Saving Psychic Raven," Raven finds other teens with Psychic Powers and starts hanging out with them, neglecting Chelsea and Eddie in the process. When they find out and confront one another, Eddie bluntly calls the psychic kids "freaks" to Raven's face; Raven is quick to remind him that she's psychic herself.
    Raven: Is that what you call me when I'm not around?
  • In Will & Grace, they both step into this one at the doctor's office when they try to have a baby:
    Grace: How about Sheila if it's a girl?
    Will: We've been over this, Sheila is the name of a whore.
    Grace: [to nurse after Will left] He's right, Sheila is a bit whorish.
    Nurse: We haven't been introduced. Hi, I'm Sheila.
    Grace: Oh god, I'm so sorry.
    Nurse: Don't be, I am a whore.

    Professional Wrestling 
  • A segment between Kurt Angle and then-teammate Chris Jericho had Angle complaining about Edge, deriding his long, blonde hair, propensity for dressing like a rock star, and being Canadian. Cue a non-verbal I'm Standing Right Here from Jericho, and Angle backtracks with "Oh, but I like you!"

    Video Games 
  • Dragon Age II, after Bartrand betrays his brother, Varric:
    Varric: I swear I will find that son of a bitch — sorry, mother — and I will KILL HIM.
  • In The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, it's possible for your Nordic allies to proclaim "Skyrim belongs to the Nords!" or other insults at their enemies despite the fact that their enemies may also be Nords, and the person they're serving is a non-Nord (or better yet, a non-human). Bonus points if your enemies are the Stormcloaks, who also use that line as a catchphrase and may shout it back at you, even if you are a Nord, yourself.
  • Mass Effect 2:
    • Shepard, giving a pep-talk to a krogan, while his/her quarian teammate is present:
      Shepard: I said a badass, not some scout whining like a quarian with a tummy-ache.
      Tali: I'm Standing Right Here!
    • Joker manages to do this to himself when talking about quarians; only after he disparages people who live aboard ships their entire lives does he realize he's practically welded to his pilot's seat. (It's real leather!)
      Joker: Ah, I just burned myself. Great.
  • SpongeBob SquarePants: Battle for Bikini Bottom, in a Call-Back to the episode Frankendoodle, this is Patrick's response to the final boss; a giant robot Spongebob.
    Patrick: Look at THAT guy! That big square head, and those short-shorts, it's the most hideous thing I've ever seen!
    Spongebob: Wait! That hideous thing looks like me!
  • In Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus, during the visit to Roswell, an American woman tries to charm a Nazi officer and praise the Nazi ideals, until she makes a remark about the "impure Austrians". The Nazi officer angrily points out that the Fuhrer is Austrian, and so is the officer's own grandmother. The woman desperately tries to apologize and backtrack, but he tells her that she will be reported to his superiors, monitored, and severely punished if she steps out of line again. It was a microcosm of the game's Central Theme about the dangers of cozying up to totalitarian/racist regimes.

    Web Animation 
  • Shishihara: Ms. Jogasaki tries to insult Sota by claiming that he was creeping her out, just because he was using a lip balm at school. At the same time, she doesn't realize that the insult was also directed to the principal as he was also using a lip balm.

    Web Comics 
  • Atomic Robo has one here
    Phil: I gotta get back to the conference.
    Jullie: What for? Only the loser talks are scheduled this late.
    Phil: Mine's at ten-fifteen.
  • Bobwhite. Ivy is talking with her teacher Frank, and she's worried about not having enough credits to graduate:
    Ivy: I'll have to stay here over the summer... How am I gonna do that? I can't take three more months of this shit! What if I still can't pass? What if I end up coming back here year after year for the rest of my life? Um... no offense, Frank.
    Frank: No no, I get it.
  • In General Protection Fault:
    • Ki's father, opposing Nick and Ki getting married, says that he does not approve of a mixed marriage. He is a Japanese man married to a Chinese woman; when Nick points it out, he gets beaten up, and when Ki points it out with her mother in earshot, he quickly loses the argument, and gets Exiled to the Couch even after he apologizes.
    • Comes up in a flashback arc when Ki calls Sam out over his insulting Fooker.
      Sam: Okay, okay, the guy's a total dork, but I'll leave him alone. He's still a geek, though.
      Ki: Well, so am I, so don't forget that.
  • Gunnerkrigg Court had the last quip William hurled at Kat applicable to his secret sweetheart. Which resulted in Janet's sharp elbow finding his ribs.
  • In The Order of the Stick, while Elan and Nale are fighting, Elan insults Nale's penis. Then Nale points out that since they are identical twins, Elan just insulted himself. Later in the same fights, he calls Nale a bastard, getting the same reaction.
  • In Rusty and Co., Mimic's reaction on seeing a gelatinous cube:
    Mimic: Holy Cannoli! A hideous, disgusting, slimy, nasty, dripping, foul, stinking, oozing, loathsome... [realizes that he has a gelatinous cube in his own party]
    Rusty: Awkwaaaaaard.
  • Twokinds: (Database Error) has a burning hatred of Keidran, which is unfortunate for him when he's paired up with one. It gets worse when it's revealed that the woman he's in love with is also a Keidran, so every time he insults the Keidran he hates, He's also insulting the woman he loves.

    Web Videos 
  • In one episode of Noob, Sparadrap acts completely silly in a situation that is supposed to be taken seriously, in front of a crowd of other players. Arthéon eventually makes him stop and excuses his behavior by saying "it's genetic". Sparadrap has a younger brother that is much more talented than him and was shown to be part of the crowd earlier in the episode.
  • In 2018, PewDiePie began making videos that had many similarities to videos by his friend Jacksfilms, leading to him slowly parodying him more and more, before eventually releasing a satire video claiming Jack was the plagiarist. Some fans took this literally, sending Jack rude comments, which he happily read and corrected grammar for. One PewDiePie fan technically made a comment insulting both Jack and PewDiePie:
    Comment: [sic] Your shit even pew die pie makes better and original content than you!!
    Jacksfilms: Wait, "even PewDiePie", yeah, that's an insult against PewDiePie!

    Western Animation 
  • Batman Beyond: In "The Winning Edge", Terry is on his way to investigate the possibility that Bane is behind the appearance of a new street drug. Terry stops his statement about the old man being harmless short, realizing that not only is he insulting Bruce, but that Bruce is proof that an "old geezer" could certainly be a threat:
    Bruce: Remember, he was a formidable opponent. Be careful.
    Terry: Come on; he must be a zillion years old! What trouble could an old geezer... (pause) Never mind.
  • In the Biker Mice from Mars episode "The Reeking Reign of the Head Cheese, Part 2", Lawrence Limburger at one point refers to the Biker Mice as "repulsive rodents". He quickly adds "Present company excepted" when he realizes that his statement has unintentionally offended his hired minion Tunnel Rat.
  • In Futurama, when Leela reveals that her parents are visiting;
    Amy: But they're mutants. They have to stay in the sewers because they're hideous, ugly, gross monsters... err, present company excluded.
  • G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero; in an episode where Egyptian deities appear as Physical Gods (no, seriously), Anubis aids the heroes by flying them to where the fighting is until Flint refers to him as "dogface" (military jargon for an infantry soldier). He tries to explain this when it seems Anubis might be offended (Anubis has the head of an actual dog) but are unceremoniously dumped on the ground. (Whether he did take offense isn't clear.)
  • In House of Mouse, Daisy asks a table of villains to move and Hades calls her a witch (with a capital B)... when everyone else at the table is a literal witch, like Maleficent and Ursula. None of them comment on Hades' choice of words.
  • The Johnny Bravo episode "Under the Big Flop" has Jungle Boy unintentionally upset his snake friend by calling Vivian Vixen a cold-hearted snake.
  • A weird case in Justice League happened in an early episode when Hawkgirl, Superman, Martian Manhunter and the Flash are traveling through space to see why Green Lantern would surrender so readily to the Manhunters. Hawkgirl says, "You humans are crazy", and then realizes she's talking to Superman, a Kryptonian. Though Superman takes it as a compliment to be lumped in with humanity.
  • My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic:
    • After prankster Gilda in "Griffon the Brushoff" gets pranked herself, she belts out a fierce "Reason You Suck" Speech at the presumed perpetrator, Pinkie Pie. It was really her own best friend, Rainbow Dash, who ends up sticking up for Pinkie.
    • There's also a few instances where a character calls someone else "stubborn as a mule", only to realize that an actual mule is standing nearby and quickly add "no offense". The mule is actually very forgiving of this, which actually puts the full weight of the insult into question — how stubborn could they be if they're that forgiving about being insulted to their faces? Maybe mules take pride in being stubborn.
  • Sofia the First: In "Two Princesses and a Baby", when Cedric chases Rex for his spellbook, he calls him a "hare-brained hound". Clover overhears him and tells him to watch who he's calling "hare-brained".
  • SpongeBob SquarePants has Patrick's reaction to Doodlebob in the episode "Frankendoodle":
    Patrick: Look at him! He's hideous! That square body, those bulging eyes, those buck teeth, and that stupid tie!
    SpongeBob: [clears throat, glares]
    Patrick: Oh, but it looks good on you, SpongeBob!
  • In almost every incarnation of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, the word "Rat" will be used as an insult at some point, with the speaker quickly apologizing to Splinter after he or he does so.
  • In the Superman: The Animated Series episode "Knight Time", Superman and Robin find out that Bruce Wayne is being mind-controlled by alien nanites.
    Robin: So he's actually being controlled by aliens?! Eeeewwwwwww!
    Superman: I'm deeply hurt.
    Robin: Sorry.
  • Young Justice (2010): Wally/Kid Flash makes several disparaging remarks about aliens. Cut to Superboy (Kryptonian) and Miss Martian (obviously a Martian) standing there.


Video Example(s):


Kermit insults Elton John's song.

Kermit the Frog's friends apparently have written a song and tries to get guest-star Elton John to talk them out of it.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (13 votes)

Example of:

Main / InsultFriendlyFire

Media sources: