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Insulted Awake

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Transformed Susan is a little too fascinated with her reflection.
Professor Dr.: Breaking a hypnotic trance by sharp shock to the feminine self-esteem. Novel concept.
Snuka: But effective!

Apparently, a strong emotional reaction is enough to break hypnotism, brainwashing, amnesia, or just plain depression.

When something (or someone) has entranced one of the heroes, they'll often be in a hurry to get the victim moving. Fortunately, friends, teammates and co-workers often have a talent for making each other angry.

For some reason, that's especially true if they're completely different from each other and have been repeatedly forced by circumstances to endure each other's company...

Warning! The victim will remember the insult, and it probably won't be erased by having saved them. Be prepared for a (potentially violent) backlash unless you explain yourself. Heck, the backlash could be immediate if this trope involves hitting a Berserk Button.

Even More than Mind Control isn't always enough to resist this. However, they can't be Insulted Awake if they're really Not Brainwashed.

A subtrope of I Shall Taunt You, which covers deliberately insulting someone for any of a variety of tactical reasons.


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    Anime and Manga 
  • Ayakashi Triangle:
    • Subverted when Reo's ritual accidentally causes Shirogane to start suffering Death by Despair. She and Suzu try to do perverted things for him to come to his senses and complain about. It turns out Shirogane doesn't like being a Straight Man enough for it to resolve his existential crisis, especially when Matsuri ends up doing it for him.
      Shirogane: I'm useless... I'm just trash that can't even give a good scolding!
    • Played straight later on when Kanade starts Sharing a Body with Shirogane. Matsuri asks what happens to his consciousness when Kanade is in charge right before Suzu lands breast-first in Matsuri's face, and Shirogane takes back over to shame them.
  • In this special of Baka and Test: Summon the Beasts, Yoshii wakes up Princess Minami this way by pointing out her underdeveloped chest region.
  • D.Gray-Man: The only way to wake up Komui Lee is to tell him "Lenalee (his sister) is getting married". This will either wake him in a state of profound grief that she didn't tell him, or will wake him instantly, fully alert.
  • Fruits Basket: Kakeru wakes up the one-quarter awake Yuki by commenting that he was probably "brought up as a spoiled little rich girl." Since Yuki is also deceptively strong when he's sleeping, it backfired slightly.
  • Played with in Fullmetal Alchemist: Ed is unintentionally awakened by train hijackers referring to him as runt. In a fit of rage, he wipes the floor with every bandit in the train car. Afterward, he has no idea what is going on, and asks who the unconscious bandit he's holding by the collar is. Turns out that he was just subconsciously reacting to the word "runt".
  • Hetalia: Axis Powers: England is dying, with America by his side tearing up and whispering his name while the Grim Reaper stands behind him. As England gives his "I never hated you" speech to America, which is cut short by his apparent death, it takes America a few seconds before patting the grim reaper on the back and saying "He's FINALLY dead!" It turns out to be a way to bring him back from death's door.
  • In Kenichi: The Mightiest Disciple, Miu has been driven into a berserk rage state from thinking than Shou Kanou has killed her friends in the Shinpaku Alliance. Kenichi tries to hold her and talk her down, but repeatedly gets beaten up for trying. Eventually he uses Ma Kensei's Shock Technique ... which consists of grabbing her by the hooters. She immediately goes from silently trying to kill everyone near her to slapping Kenichi and berating him for being a pervert.
  • In Medabots, Ikki uses this to kick-start Metabee near the start of the series. After Metabee is kidnapped and his medal used in a doomsday device, Ikki manages to wake him up using the same tactic.
  • Naruto: Subverted when Ino, Shikamaru, and Choji are fighting a resurrected Asuma. Choji is going through a Heroic BSoD because he doesn't want to hit Edo-Tensei!Asuma until he calls him fat. It still doesn't work.
  • One Piece: At one point, Luffy, Zoro and Sanji are all put into comas when their shadows are stolen by the Big Bad of the arc. To wake them up all up at once, Usopp shouts that a beautiful lady swordswoman has boarded the ship with lots and lots of meat.
  • Ranma ½:
    • In an early arc, Ranma manages to cure Akane of a Shampoo-induced memory loss technique that made her forget him by insulting her so much she gets mad and goes after him. In the anime, his dad even has it repeating on a large stereo and does some freestyle DJing with it.
    • Akane insults Ranma to wake him up from unconsciousness after he takes the brunt of an attack that slammed him into a wall hard enough to shatter every bone in a normal person's body.
      Akane: Ranma? Ranma, wake up! You didn't… you didn't need to save me… RANMA YOU IDIOT!!
      Ranma: Who are you calling an idiot?! I save you and this is the thanks I get?!
  • In the Saiyuki Reload manga, Hazel Grosse is possessed by a demon who has resided in him most of his life. Hakkai, who has never gotten along with Hazel very well, proceeds to repeatedly taunt him about how weak he must be to allow this to be happening, until Hazel is provoked into taking back control.
  • In Tiger & Bunny, hearing his Embarrassing Nickname brought Barnaby to his senses, though this was unintentional; Kotetsu didn't even think he'd hear it. When it seemed impossible to stop Barnaby's super-powered attack, his partner Kotetsu muttered in despair "Bunny", which at last worked. Cue the usual "My name is not Bunny, it's Barnaby."
  • YuYu Hakusho: The edited-for-TV dub has Yusuke claiming he got awakened in the Dark Tournament (and for reference, he'd been sleeping through the cruise to the island venue—a fight in itself—and the first three fights) by Chu's trash talking. As the unedited version reveals, it was really the booze on his breath, which was an insult in itself because it reminded him of his alcoholic mother.

    Comic Books 
  • In the Tintin story "Destination Moon", Captain Haddock cures Professor Calculus' accidental amnesia by complaining about "acting the goat", a remark that had earlier served as a Berserk Button for Calculus. This is completely by accident because this time Haddock is not even calling Calculus a goat, but himself for dressing as a ghost.
    Calculus: [chasing Captain Haddock around a table] An apology! I demand an immediate apology!
    Haddock: Help!... Help!... He's cured!
  • The Batman Adventures #3 has the Joker given a radical form of shock treatment that renders him non-violent, good natured, and even affectionate to Harley Quinn. She can't stand him being this way, and declares that she is leaving him for Batman. Whereupon Joker snaps back to his usual psychopathic self and declares that he'll just have to rip Batman's lungs out.
  • The Transformers: More than Meets the Eye:
    • Rung suffers a gunshot wound to the head, and is rendered comatose. Although the physical damage has been repaired, he still won't wake up. After spending three issues engaging in cognitive therapy by telling him a story fails, Skids tries one more thing: pushing Rung's Berserk Button by intentionally getting his name wrong. Rung immediately wakes up to correct him.
    • Not exactly an insult, but a prose story from Rung's point of view written later tells of another attempt to awaken him; have Swerve talk to him endlessly. Despite having basically no brain activity, Rung nevertheless managed to put a finger to Swerve's lips in a desperate attempt to shut him up. At hour 147.

    Fan Fiction 
  • In Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality, Hermione restores Harry to normal after a Dementor assault by kissing him. His first words upon his return to normal are (outraged): "I SAID NO KISSING!"
  • In the MGLN Crisis, Signum uses this method when Fate is depressed over Arf making a Heroic Sacrifice for her, claiming that Fate is a pitiful master to Arf. The two fight for several hours, and it ends with Signum telling Fate to "Mourn her passing, but don't betray the meaning of her sacrifice."

    Films — Live-Action 
  • In Mystery Men, Mr. Furious is depressed and doubting his powers. His teammates try to rekindle his anger by insulting him, with jibes like "Your penmanship is atrocious" and "You dress in the manner of a male prostitute." It doesn't work.
  • In Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines, John Connor breaks down after being teargassed and insists he isn't the future leader of the resistance and just wants to be left alone. The T-800 grabs him by the throat, lifts him off the ground and tells him he's right, but then admits he did it because "anger is more useful than despair".
  • Whenever The Three Stooges try to sleep, they do something to Moe's discomfort. He usually slaps them and commands "Hey! Wake up and go to sleep!"

  • In one of the Undead And novels by Mary Janice Davidson, in order to get Betsy out of a near-comatose state, Eric (her fiance) shouts, "I'm terribly sorry, but I cannot go through with the wedding!" She snaps and begins to yell at him before realizing what he was trying to do.
  • A rather creepy scene in an Everworld book involves a female character trying to do this by insulting the masculinity of a (rather macho) mind-control victim, only to be told "Don't try to provoke me."
  • Full Metal Panic! has Sousuke do this to Kaname Chidori in the final novel. Interestingly, what really works isn't the curse-laden tirade he goes on, but his insinuation that she's too gutless and weak to resist Sofia's Mind Control, which pretty much gets Kaname's dander up.
  • The Locked Tomb: Gideon the Ninth: Inverted. Palamedes wakes up Harrow by calling himself the greatest necromancer of their generation. Harrow, who has been operating on little food and less sleep for three days straight, who was found unconscious in a cocoon of necromantic bone she wove around herself for safety, wakes up just long enough to sass him.
  • In The Perilous Gard the main character Kate uses this to save Christopher from becoming a Human Sacrifice.
  • In The Railway Series, Thomas the Tank Engine's Establishing Character Moment sees him pulling one of these on Gordon.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Exploited in an episode of Community when the group fell asleep studying for finals and Jeff needs to wake up Pierce as quickly as possible:
    Jeff: "Discrimination lawsuit".
    Pierce: (instantly) Preposterous!
  • In the Star Trek: The Original Series episode "This Side of Paradise", the ship's crew falls under the influence of spores from an alien plant and stop caring about their duties and responsibilities. Kirk snaps out of it and thereby discovers that strong negative emotions can counteract the spores' effect. He then insults Spock to the point where it drives Spock into a rage. Of course, despite being armed and ready (or so he believed...), Kirk finds out very soon just how bad an idea it is to actually make a Vulcan angry. For reference, the normally pacifistic Vulcan manages to bend the steel bar Kirk is using to hold him at bay, swats the trained expert fighter across the room with little effort, and almost kills him with his bare hands before coming to his senses just in time.
    Kirk:: ''Believe me, Mr Spock, it was painful...(wincing) in more ways than one.
  • Also happened in one Sledge Hammer! episode, when all the policemen except for the choleric boss have become totally apathetic.
  • On an episode of JAG, a Marine in a coma is awoken by an angry bedside tirade from his Drill Sergeant.
  • NCIS does this in reverse - Ziva manages to restore Gibbs' memory by grabbing his hand and inflicting his trademark Dope Slap on herself.
  • In Firefly, when Wash is starting to lose it under Cold-Blooded Torture, Mal just escalates the argument they've been having all episode.
  • An episode of Full House featured Joey listening to self-help tapes and being so into them that the only way to snap him out of it was to pull back his headphones and insult him.
  • Jeremy Clarkson claims that the first real sign of life from co-presenter Richard Hammond after his accident was when he visited him in hospital and told him that the reason he was in that state was because he was a crap driver. Apparently Hammond smiled.
  • Subverted in an episode of Scrubs when Cox demonstrates that an elderly man is comatose by leaning in close: "Eisenhower was a sissy."
  • Colonel Sheppard uses this approach on Rodney McKay in Stargate Atlantis to determine whether Rodney is ignoring him because he's too engrossed in his research, or because he hasn't recovered enough from his hearing loss earlier in the episode.
    Sheppard: Canadian football is a joke. (Beat) Céline Dion is overrated. (Beat) Zelenka is smarter than you are.
  • Malcolm in the Middle In "Reese Joins the Army" (the season 5 finale), the combination of Reese's disappearance (partly Malcolm's fault) and Hal getting framed, arrested and tried for a serious crime he had no part in causes Lois to undergo a mental breakdown, whereby she, now confronted with an issue that she cannot control, retreats into her own fantasy of a family of pigs that she crafts from discarded milk jugs, flooding her bedroom with them. However, when Malcolm manages to prove Hal's innocence, it is revealed that Hal had never shown up to work on Fridays for 15 years. While Hal's Friday memory box evidence and proves Hal's innocence (Hal's coworkers always claimed he was seen committing crimes on Fridays), Lois is enraged at the realization that while she was working hard on Fridays cleaning the house and working double shifts, he was feeding Shamu, watching a college play, going onto a mini-golf course, and going to Pilgrim Village.

    Video Games 
  • In Super Robot Wars Original Generation 2, Seolla had been brainwashed into forgetting that her close friend Arado, who recently pulled a Heel–Face Turn, ever existed except as an enemy. Yet, when he made a crack about the size of her breasts (something he's been doing to her since they day they met), she immediately snapped "How many times have I told you not to make fun of my chest!" by pure reflex.
  • Gate Keepers: the entire crew is in a Lotus Eater-type situation, and Shun realizes before everyone else that he's in a dream. He snaps Ruriko out of it by calling her a "crybaby" (something he used to call her when they were kids).
  • In the beginning of Baldur's Gate II, you can insult Minsc to make him break the bars of his prison. Minsc lampshades it after it succeeds.
    Minsc: You said what you did to get me mad! Mad enough to break free, ha ha! You are as smart as Boo sometimes!
  • In Star Control 2, you recruit the last surviving Shofixti by repeatedly insulting him until he realizes you can't be an Ur-Quan because they're always unfailingly polite.
  • The level 50 Goldsmith quest in Final Fantasy XIV: Gigi the mammet has been incapacitated, and your character gets the bright idea of using a ring you had to craft earlier to revive him. As Serendipity points out later, this makes absolutely no sense in terms of mammet construction, and your character doesn't actually know anything about how they work, but it revives him anyway because, in his usual Caustic Critic mood, he couldn't bear having your creation in his body.

    Visual Novels 
  • In Fate/stay night, calling Fuji by her nickname, Tiger, will always wake her up. The students she teaches have to do this whenever she gives herself a concussion in her haste to get to her own class on time.


    Web Original 
  • In Atop the Fourth Wall, Linkara found Spoony possessed by evil, so Linkara said "You're standing in my spot, Sir." from the game Swat 4, a Berserk Button of Spoony's stemming from his Let's Play of it. It wasn't quite the best plan, as, while it did snap him out of it, Spoony then proceeded to beat the crap out of Linkara, shouting "I'm not fucking in your way!" before storming off.
  • In Abridged on Titan, Eren's mother revealed that adopted daughter Mikasa was always her favorite shortly before dying, and that combined with the stress of seeing mom eaten by a titan and the titan invasion has driven Eren absolutely insane and makes him driven to somehow prove himself better than Mikasa. When the titans attack again and Eren's leg is bitten off by one, he passes out until he hallucinates his mother telling him that he's nothing but a disappointment and a failure. This gives him the Heroic Second Wind he needs to save Armin... and get eaten by a titan.
  • In MoBrosStudios YouTube Poop "Candace Opens an Interdimensional Portal", the RED Scout is believed dead after getting petrified by Candace's Superpowered Evil Side. The RED Spy eulogizes him with a surprisingly-heartfelt "Here lies Scout, he ran fast and died a virgin...", prompting Scout to bust out of his petrified Ducky Momo costume with an indignant "What?!"

    Western Animation 
  • The Adventures of Super Mario Bros. 3: The plot of an episode revolved around an escalating argument between the brothers, and, to get at Mario, Luigi snapped Mario's suspenders back, pulled his cap down, and plucked his mustache so hard it curled upwards. Later, Mario fell under a hypnotic tech-induced Koopa Trance, leaving it up to Luigi to save him. When the inevitable "I Know You're in There Somewhere" Fight between them ended up not actually breaking the trance, Luigi simply repeats what he did to Mario earlier, bringing him back by eliciting the same response as he'd gotten earlier:
    Mario: Ooooooh! I hate it when you do that!
  • The Amazing World of Gumball: "The Sale" opens with Gumball and Darwin devastated over hearing that Mr. Robinson, whom they idolize in spite of his intense hatred of them, is moving. They imagine themselves falling through the ground and into a lightless abyss, but immediately wake up enraged by Nicole suggesting that they might get some better neighbors when the Robinsons are gone.
  • Codename: Kids Next Door: This happens to Nigel Uno a lot. As one example, on being stranded on Rainbow Monkey Island for a long time, he ended up Going Native... until someone told him he had gone through all that for a keychain. He immediately returned to normal and exploded.
  • Family Guy: In "Once Bitten", Brian bites Peter when he tries to give him a suppository, which leads to him getting sent to obedience school. He comes back a timid, subservient dog, but Peter soon starts to miss the old Brian and gets the idea to give him the pill so that he'll bite him again, proving that he hasn't really changed.
  • Futurama: Not exactly an insult, but in the episode "Rebirth", Leela is in a coma and, after unsuccessful attempts at reviving her, is laid to rest on a planet to be fed to an alien monster. However, when Bender acts like his normal jackass self and makes a large fire-burp, she immediately awakens to yell "Bender, shut the hell up!"
  • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic: A non-verbal variation occurs in "Spike at Your Service"; Applejack tries to get Twilight's attention, but she's too invested in reading her new book to hear her, so she knocks over an inkwell on Twilight's desk so the unicorn will snap out of it and instinctively put it back in place.
  • Teen Titans (2003): In one episode, they repeatedly snapped Beast Boy out of Mad Mod's hypnotism by making him laugh. In the end, it looked like he'd finally succumbed for good — until Raven made a cleverly barbed joke about his intelligence. It was laughter that awoke him, but then he realized what she'd said and was promptly insulted.


Video Example(s):


Wake up, Lazybones!

Thomas keeps disturbing Gordon with his whistle which he doesn't find funny.

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Main / InsultedAwake

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