Someone, under the cover of anonymity, acts like a jerk on the Internet. Common techniques are derogatory videos, insults and personal attack, Catfishing, doxxing, sexual or other harassment, and in the most extreme cases, death threats or plotting terrorist attacks.
The perception of jerks on the Internet has changed over time. Since people online cannot actually physically confront each other, "Internet Tough Guy" used to be a synonym for people who talk a big game but cannot follow it up. However, during the 2010s, an increased recognition of the emotional harm that verbal harassment can cause, instances of cyberbullying leading to suicides, and cases of terrorists announcing their intentions online before actually carrying them out in Real Life, have all reduced the implication that an Internet jerk's words are mere show.
Often goes hand-in-hand with a Social Media Is Bad message. May overlap with Bad Influencer, except those people are famous and do it. Sometimes overlaps with Troll, though not all trolls are on the Internet and not all Internet trolls are this bad.
No Real Life Examples, Please!
- Cromartie High School: Kiyoshi Fujimoto is an inversion of the trope. In real life, he's a violent high school student and the leader of his own gang, but when he gets home, he runs an internet message board where he speaks politely and tries to keep things civil. He then encounters a troll, Makio Tanaka, who plays the trope straight and insults Fujimoto on his own message board. The two end up literally bumping into each other by chance in Akihabara, with Fujimoto knocking Tanaka out in a single punch, completely unaware that he just beat up the troll he's still pondering how to deal with.
- EDENS ZERO: An in-universe, and fairly literal example, Spider/Jamilov poses as a ruthless and powerful thug in Digitalis, though he's actually just a lowly, wimpy hacker.
- Played for laughs in Girls und Panzer; a first-year student posts a question on the Internet asking how to start up a tank, and for her trouble receives responses such as "Google it, noob!" and "You start by taking off your clothes."
- In Inuyashiki a bunch of these harass one of the two main characters´ mother until she commits suicide. Unfortunately for them, said main character is a cyborg able, among other things, to shoot people through computer and cellphone screens, no matter where they are, so he looks for them and then kills them all in a cathartic troll hunt.
- In the Godzilla MonsterVerse Abraxas (Hrodvitnon), there's a recurring token Internet Jerk on the Monster X news forums who expresses anti-Titan sentiment, calls Monarch "egghead retards", and repetitively complains that the new Titan is going to end the world.
- Femke Boot, the titular Villain Protagonist in The Columnist, is a newspaper writer who hits her Rage-Breaking Point due to these people, most of them right-wing reactionaries who hate her liberal politics and hurl misogynistic invective at her while spreading rumors that she's a pedophile on the basis of an old article taken out of context. What's more, because her job in media requires her to maintain a social media presence, she can't disengage with it. It causes her to become a Serial Killer, using her harassers' own social media footprints to track down where they live and murder them.
Femke: You called the wrong fucking whore a fucking whore.
- Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back: Jay responds to Internet commenters on Movie Poop Shoot (a thinly-veiled parody of Ain't It Cool News) giving negative feedback on the upcoming Bluntman and Chronic movie. Of course, Jay's act is unknowingly feeding the trolls — at least until he and Silent Bob actually make good on their threats, heading to Hollywood to sabotage production of the movie. And then, in The Stinger, they personally go to the homes and workplaces of every one of the trolls on Movie Poop Shoot and give each of them a No-Holds-Barred Beatdown.
- Nerve concerns a game of dares where the "Players" performing are on-camera, but the "Watchers" setting the challenges and paying those who manage to pull them off hide behind usernames as they make the Players humiliate or endanger themselves. A friend of the protagonist asks the help of a group of hackers to remove the anonymity, and the Watchers all leave the game to avoid the offline repercussions (specially as the "final showdown" had one player shooting the other, leading to the screen names changing to the legal names along with the message "YOU ARE AN ACCESSORY TO MURDER.").
- The Social Network: Erica accuses Mark of becoming this with his immature drunken blog rant about her.
- Grace from The Nowhere Girls makes the mistake of reading "The Real Men of Prescott," a blog anonymously written by one of Lucy's rapists, where he brags about his conquests, consensual or otherwise, and makes insulting generalizations about women. The blog sends Grace down a rabbit hole of manosphere sites full of people trading date rape tips.
- Sword Art Online: Sugou Nobuyuki may very well be one of the worst examples in all of fiction. While most examples of this trope merely have those online acting as massive jerks which they could not get away with in real-life. Sugou sees being in a virtual world as the perfect excuse to be a sadistic bastard, conducting inhumane experiments on players and making numerous attempts to sexually assault Asuna, before going for the full on Attempted Rape. And then Kirito finds out he's just as bad in the real world as he is online, when Sugou tries to kill him using a knife.
- Supernatural: In "Mint Condition", Sam discovers that the reason Stuart recanted his story is due to the amount of internet harassment he was receiving.
- Tiger King: Joe's internet TV series was full of hateful screed, up to and including overt death threats, against his Sitcom Arch-Nemesis Carole Baskin. It came back to bite him when these statements were used as evidence against him in his murder-for-hire trial.
- Demi Lovato lyric: "Haters that live on the Internet/Live in my head, should be paying rent."
- Eminem's frequent Take That, Critics! theme means these are an increasingly frequent punchbag for him.
- In 2003's "Can I Bitch", he sneers at Canibus, who (in the song) has been sending him increasingly unhinged Stan-type messages, for being a 'nerdy internet computer hip-hop head'.
- In "On Fire" he trashes an unnamed person note for shitting on him on a blog.
- In "Calm Down" he raps a brief passage as an internet music reviewer, in a stupid whiny voice:
Fucking internet bloggers: "I sit in front of my computer all day and comment on everything, I'm an expert on everything, everything sucks!! — play the next song!"Guess if I hopped out your freaking laptop, you idiot prick, with Biggie, and kicked the living shit out you, I'd be 'dead wrong'note
- Most of the album Kamikaze is dedicated to people who were making fun of him on Twitter. The skit, in particular, dramatises Eminem driving over to the house of "some Yahoo! motherfucker" who complained about him rhyming "rhymes" with "chimes"note . Eminem is proud that he'd actually rhymed two entire lines via his typical word-warping pronunciation technique note , and equally proud of himself for figuring out this guy's address.
- Cantr II: Ingame, the anonymous radio system basically breeds this type. Declare into the Internet equivalent, of a game on the Internet, that everyone is in serious trouble now because Sgt Hardpants is alive and well, and then go back to sleep, content in being a couch warrior, twice over.
- Yandere Simulator: Hoshiko Mizudori runs a hate blog.
- Persona 5: Many of the comments on the "Phan-Site" tend to get pretty toxic. After Okumura's death, for a few days people celebrate his passing, but then immediately turn on the Thieves, calling for them to be tracked down and executed. It gets so bad that the site creator, Mishima, has to delete certain comments. It's a growing side-effect of the Greater-Scope Villain's More than Mind Control expanding.
- Daily JoJo: Inverted. Wan Jo and Eunjo bond while playing an MMORPG. Wan Jo is normally a stuck-up jerk in person but becomes a lot warmer and more genuine in the game.
- The Navy Seal Copypasta is a parody of the Internet Jerk described below. The "story" essentially involves a loser on an internet forum getting mad at the person he's arguing with and than trying way too hard to make himself seem scary to get back at the guy.
- AFK: This behavior sadly translates across into the world which the gamers find themselves in, as the more sociopathic ones are only too happy to kill and rob others there as well.
- Digimanz The Adventure Too: Davis learned that the Internet Tough Guy Trolls the G.I.F.T. creates can often leak into the real world by inspiring people to be cruel even without the safety of internet anonymity, and the best way to fight this is to be more understanding of other human beings.
- Jim Browning: One of the scammers featured in "Making life hell for TomTom scammers" threatens to "beat the crap" out of one of the scambaiters helping Jim out with chat flooding the scammers.
- Sword Art Online Abridged: This version of Kirito is an insufferable Internet Tough Guy to compensate for how crappy his life is outside of VR, and part of his Character Development over the first season is finding enough value in the friends he made in SAO to be willing to give up his ideal existence in the game to keep them safe.
- True Capitalist: Whenever a troll makes fun of Texas, Ghost never fails to tell them that they'd get their asses kicked if they said that while in the state. He also frequently claims that he's in the process of seeking punitive damages for their trolling. Naturally, nobody believes a word of it.
- Vinesauce: V-Dub's an inflammatory dudebro who claims to be a former marine and called Outlaw's mom a dick.
- The Amazing World of Gumball:
- Timmy is a literal example; he is the entire internet and he is one of the biggest Jerkasses in the series.
- "The Voice" begins with Gumball and Darwin trolling and starting flame wars with their classmates on Elmore Plus, then blocking them before they can respond (such as arguing with the Eggheads about whether or not nachos are a fruit). Gumball sums it up:
Gumball: I love Elmore Plus! It's like real life, but with none of the consequences!
- The Eggheads, Colin and Felix. Aside from the aforementioned flame war with Gumball and Darwin, they utter this line in "The Promise" after making fun of Carrie (who is waiting in line behind them for the new The Legend of Zelmore game):
Colin: This is what happens when you spend all your time flaming people on web forums.
Felix: You don't get girlfriends.
- The Boys: Diabolical: Comes up in the short "Boyd in 3D", where Boyd's relationship with Cherry after she takes on a Cat Girl appearance eventually leads to commenters harassing him by comparing it to bestiality.
- Our Cartoon President: Mark Zuckerberg's polite face to face, but once made an entire website for cruelly judging people's looks.
- South Park: Gerald Broflovski is secretly the Internet troll, skankhunt42. When he's off the computer, he's such a Dirty Coward he'd throw his five-year-old son under the bus to avoid getting into trouble with his wife.
- Transformers: Animated: Well, Henry Masterson/Headmaster acts like one at least. And he has the machine to back it up.
- In an episode of Family Guy, Peter, Cleveland, Quagmire, and Joe decide to make a YouTube channel. Then came the fateful moment when they checked the comment section.
Peter: Boy, they just went right after Cleveland, didn't they?Quagmire: [disgusted] Geez, that word looks even harsher when it's in all-caps.