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Let Me at Him!

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Mrs. Beakley: Oh dear, no sign of them yet. Should I call the police?
Scrooge: Aye, to hold me back when those rascals finally get home!

A Crime Time Soap and Detective Drama trope.

A detective (rarely a great one, though), angered by a possible or actual perp being smug, lunges for them and has to be restrained by fellow officers. Not usually part of Good Cop/Bad Cop, more sheer hatred on the part of the detective (often when It's Personal). Particularly vulnerable to stuff like If You Kill Him, You Will Be Just Like Him! when there is actual murderous intent (this is quite rare in police shows, though).

This trope is very easily Played for Laughs both within and outside the police procedural.



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    Anime & Manga 
  • Monkey D. Garp from One Piece asks Sengoku to deliberately invoke this trope after seeing Akainu kill Ace, his adopted son from Gold Roger saying that if Sengoku didn't, then he would kill Akainu.
  • In Pokémon, when Ash's Scraggy is born, he tries introducing it to the rest of Ash's team. Scraggy, unfortunately, has a habit of using Headbutt to say hello. When Oshawott gets hit, it takes the combined might of Tepig and Pikachu to keep the extremely agitated otter from Scraggy.
  • In Sailor Moon, after Chibi-Usa causes the Sailor Guardians to get kidnapped by Rubeus by taking away Usagi's Transformation Trinket, Usagi viciously tries to pound Chibi-Usa before Mamoru holds her back from doing so.

    Films — Animation 
  • In The Lion King II: Simba's Pride, Timon tells Pumbaa to hold him back, and Pumbaa does so. He then yells "Let me at him, let me at him!" and Pumbaa does so.
    Timon: Pumbaa, I think you're missing the basic point here.
  • Gus in Cinderella does this when the stepsisters tear up Cinderella's dress and later when the stepmother locks Cinderella in her room. Jaq has to hold him by his tail both times.
  • In Lilo & Stitch 2: Stitch Has a Glitch, Stitch has to hold Lilo back when Mertle taunts her, but when the latter tells her she won't be as good a dancer as her deceased mother, Stitch lets her go and photographs the ensuing smackdown.
  • In My Little Pony: Equestria Girls – Rainbow Rocks, as a result of a Hate Plague, Derpy picks a fight with Bulk Biceps of all people. Lyra and Bon Bon hold her back.
  • In Mulan, Crickey has to hold Mushu back by his tail after Shang angrily gets in Mulan's face.
  • The Swan Princess: The first time Puffin sees Rothbart, he tries to go give the (much larger) human a good roughing up. Jean-Bob physically holds him back, while Speed just tells him to chill.
  • In Sleeping Beauty, Merriweather has to be repeatedly restrained from attacking Maleficent... including after she'd turned into a dragon.
  • In The Rugrats Movie, we see a reporter named Rex Pester's inconsiderately and without warning interviewing Deedee on how it feels to have lost her children. Betty has to be held back by Stu and Lou as Rex continues to pester.
  • Mickey's Twice Upon a Christmas: In "Christmas Impossible", Daisy and Scrooge hold Donald back when his nephews eat Scrooge's Christmas cookies.
  • Used in a Funny Background Event gag in The Emperor's New Groove: after Kuzco casually insults the lineup of his bride candidates and turns his attention to other matters, one of the girls can be seen being physically restrained from attacking him.
  • DuckTales the Movie: Treasure of the Lost Lamp, Scrooge refers to the trope when Huey Dewey, Louie and Webby fail to get home before dark. It never actually gets this far however since the kids use one of their wishes to calm him down.
    • Later, upon seeing Merlock coming for him after Genie warns him, Scrooge, recognizing Merlock as that "backstabbing banshee" who stole the treasure from him, tries to attack him, only for Genie to hold him back, because he's too powerful and could destroy Scrooge.
  • In Pinocchio, the title character holds Jiminy Cricket back by his shirt when he tries to come at Lampwick.
  • In Hercules, Pegasus tries to attack Nessus after he struck Hercules twice, but Phil holds him back, citing that Herc has to fight him on his own.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Parodied in There's Something About Mary. Ted is suspected of being a twisted Serial Killer by a pair of detectives, but it's in fact a huge mix-up and Ted only ran into the real culprit without even knowing. This starts a Mistaken Confession where Ted casually admits his habit of "picking up hitchhikers". When he says that he might have had up to fifty hitchhikers in his life and makes light of this fact, the more unnerved of the two cops bashes Ted's head into the table in rage.
  • Played straight in Mad Max when one of the bikers is let go on a "No Contest" plea.
  • Lethal Weapon, where they let Riggs fight with Mr. Joshua at the end.
  • Dirty Harry, although it is more of a statement than done in anger.
  • Sgt. Kelloway from the movie version of The Mask. Granted, it had definitely become personal at that point, what with them finding a picture of Kelloway's wife in Stanley's pants.
  • In L.A. Confidential, Bud White's Berserk Button is triggered as he listens to a black suspect confessing to the incidental crime of kidnapping and raping a Mexican woman. He shatters the back of the chair he is leaning on, storms into the interrogation room, violently pushes the suspect against the wall, and places the barrel of his gun into his mouth. Go 50's!
  • One of the methods of dealing with bullies that Drillbit Taylor teaches the boys is the Holdback Technique, which is faking this trope to make the other party think you want to fight, ideally making them back off. When the boys try it at school, the one being held back is punched. Drillbit is surprised they actually tried it.
  • In several Three Stooges comedies, one of the boys will demand that a woman holding them back release them so they can assault some obnoxious third party. Typically ends with them being released and deciding to allow the lady to handle it.
  • Conquest of Space (1955). The Ms. Fanservice wife of the Plucky Comic Relief sends a message via newsreel to her husband on the Space Station. Unfortunately she inadvertently gives away that she's having an affair. The man has to be restrained from attacking the screen.
  • Insomnia: Invoked by Detective Dormer, who is being blackmailed by Kay's killer for an incident in which he accidentally shot his partner. During the interrogation the actual killer tries to steer the cops to suspect Kay's abusive boyfriend with a "smoking gun" piece of evidence. Dormer has to get out of the interrogation room so he can plant the weapon before the cops search the boyfriend's apartment, so he aggressively questions and tries to hit him so his colleagues will think he's overworked and let him out for a while.
  • The Full Monty: Gaz's Berserk Button is triggered because Gerald called him and one of his friends "ugly", at least his friends restrained both Gaz and Gerald from fighting.
  • Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix: When all the students are getting off from the Hogwarts Express, Draco Malfoy provokes Harry of him going to Azkaban. Harry lunges at Malfoy, only for Ron to quickly restrain him.
  • Invoked in the sequel to The Mighty Ducks — Goldberg tells his teammates to hold him back while he makes a show of doing this during the game against Iceland.
  • Sgt Bilko plays this for comedy when Bilko charges at his rival, but waits just long enough for his flunkies to grab a hold of him before making a big show of trying to break free, obviously wanting no part in an actual fight.
  • The scene is done without dialogue, but seems to occur in The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring. After the group flees Moria with Gandalf seemingly dying fighting the Balrog, Boromir can be seen restraining a furious Gimili.

  • Harry Potter:
    • Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix: Fred and George Weasley get grabbed and held back from attacking Draco by other members of the Quidditch team to prevent them getting the team in trouble with Umbridge after Draco implies that he was responsible for composing "Weasley is our King" to make fun of Ron and regrets not being able to fit a line in about their impoverished parents. When Draco decides to add a bit insulting Molly and Lily in the same go, Harry lets go of George and the two of them pummel Draco. Fred is furious he didn't get to partake since Katie, Alicia and Angelina have cooler heads and all three had been required to hold him back in the first place.
    • Earlier in the series, in Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, Ron has to be prevented from pummeling Malfoy when Malfoy says it's a "pity" Hermione didn't die from the Basilisk attack. Ron, justifiably furious, attempts to jump on him right then and there, despite having a faulty wand and Snape being in the room. Harry and Dean Thomas have to physically remove him from the room. All the while, Ron is telling them to let him go, he doesn't need a wand, he'll just kill Malfoy with his bare hands.
  • When Honor Harrington learns, in The Honor of the Queen, that a P.O.W. prison guard has been ordering prisoners raped and beaten, she goes after him with murderous intent. Only the intervention of one of her subordinates, who shoves her arm aside as she's pulling the trigger, keeps her from killing him. Rather than an If You Kill Him, You Will Be Just Like Him! speech, though, she's told that there's no need to commit career suicide by killing him without a trial, when there's plenty of evidence to convict him and hang him after a full court-martial.
  • Inverted, subverted, and played straight to different degrees in J.D. Robb's In Death series. Most of the time Eve, the Bad Cop in almost every interview, intentionally provokes this reaction, sometimes even letting them land a blow to justify Epic Battle Boredom. At the same time, some of the series' villains and their Sympathetic Murderers will elicit this reaction from Hot-Blooded cops if it's personal. Sometimes it looks like one party or the other will snap and lunge... only to cool down and call a lawyer or point out a flaw in the suspect's story.
  • In Homicide: A Year On The Killing Streets, one of the detectives, having brought in a suspect who raped and beat to death his toddler stepson, contemplates giving him a serious station-house beating with the knowledge that no one in the building would blame or implicate him in any way. He doesn't do it, but not out of compassion: he realizes that, tomorrow, somebody just as bad or worse will be in the same interview room and in the end it doesn't accomplish anything. He convinces another detective to conduct the interview instead while he regains his composure.
  • An Exbrayat story has this: the inspector in in the interrogation room with the smug little drug dealer, along with a huge, middle-aged cop whose only daughter died of an overdose. When the dealer starts taunting the inspector, he starts to look as though he's going to punch the smartass... only to turn around and deck the other cop in the face. As both stare dumbfounded, he delivers this awesome line: "You disappoint me, Gunther. A two-bit drug dealer lays a hand on you and you just sit there?" Understanding dawns in the cop's face eyes just before fear does in the dealer's. Later we're told that the official version was that the cop saved the inspector from a violent criminal.

    Live-Action TV 
  • A sketch in Key & Peele is an extended look at a guy failing to invoke this. He's trying to intimidate another patron at a bar, but his friend absolutely fails to pick up any hints to hold him back and makes no effort to do so no matter what. The guy keeps trying to get him to do it regardless, and tries to claim that he's too strong and skilled to fight, which just makes his friend both point out he's probably too strong to be restrained and interested in seeing this sudden prowess.
  • In the pilot episode of Kojak, "The Marcus-Nelson Murders", Kojak has to be restrained from clobbering the killer, Teddy Hopper, a man who he had been mentoring and defending, convinced of his innocence.
  • Elliot Stabler of Law & Order: Special Victims Unit has had trouble controlling himself before.
    • In one episode it's his partner Olivia Benson who's launched at a particularly disgusting serial killer and Stabler has to pull her off.
  • Subverted in Law & Order: Criminal Intent: in Season 6, Det. Goren is interviewing convicted serial killer Mark Ford Brady in an effort to find more of his victims before he is executed, and when it becomes clear that Brady raped Goren's mother and may well be his own father, Goren snaps and goes for his throat. There's a prison guard right there in the room, but he doesn't interfere in any way; Goren just gets control of himself.
  • Criminal Minds:
    • Happened in an episode, but it was not one of the team who went across the table at the unsub; it was in fact the priest of the local church, who had helped organize a search for a missing woman in the community, and had been asked to talk to the suspect after they captured him as he was a parishioner and might talk to the priest. The priest — who has remained calm and composed the entire episode — finally loses it when the suspect reveals he chopped up the woman and made her into a stew that he then fed to the search parties.
    • Subverted by the episode "Masterpiece", where it's after Rossi's moment that Jason Alexander's UnSub lunges across the table at Rossi - who promptly gains the upper hand, slams his head against a plate-glass window a couple times, and then calmly lets him go.
  • Deconstructed in an episode of CSI where the murderer was a cop who ended up accidentally killing an innocent eighteen year old teenage suspect in interrogation who wouldn't confess by not so accidentally knocking him over onto the concrete floor and let him die of head trauma.
  • In one episode of Drake & Josh, Josh furiously charges at Drake after the latter makes him miss his chemistry exam, only for his classmates to hold him back and his teacher to throw him out of class again.
  • In The X-Files, Mulder faces a serial child murderer who claims Mulder's sister as a victim. Driven over the edge, Mulder smacks him out of the seat. When the perp yells, "He hit me!" the guard shrugs and says, "I didn't see it."
  • Kamen Rider Zi-O: Geiz is a Tsundere with Hair-Trigger Temper and duty to look after his Arch-Enemy so he naturally has to be held back quite often. He looks like an angry child throwing a tantrum more often than not and noone treats him as anything else when he is at it. Also, his ideas on how to be a jerk can be laughably petty.
  • Parodied in an episode of The Last Detective, where the protagonist, who is as far from being a Rabid Cop as is possible does this against a criminal who beat up his best friend. It's a rather ineffectual lunge and Dangerous' boss, an Old-Fashioned Copper, finds it amusing.
  • The Phil Silvers Show: A variation of this trope, where Bilko ordered his men to hold him back in a serious and threatening tone, then proceeded to struggle against them trying to get at the guy who pissed him off. As he starts to break free, he urges them with greater and greater urgency to hold him back better (so he doesn't have to actually fight).
    • This got played again in the Steve Martin Sgt. Bilko film. Bilko commands that he be held back, then begins shouting "Lemme at 'im!" Of course, this was all for show.
  • CSI NY:
    • Danny after Aiden's death. He's wanting very badly to rough up the guy he thinks did it, but Mac is admant he can't because it has to go by the book. It was someone else who killed her anyway in the end.
    • There was one that initially appeared similar to the CSI example above, but it turned into a subversion. Flack has the misfortune for a kid to die in custody, during interrogation. It appears he might have gotten overzealous with the kid, but it later turns out the death was drug induced.
  • Often happens with Bill Oddie in The Goodies, though there it's played for comic effect.
  • A rare comedic example is Married... with Children, where Marcy is frequently having to be pulled off Al, usually as a result of him making fun of her figure or her feminist beliefs.
  • The George Lopez Show: In "Now George Noah's Ex-Zack-ly What Happened", Ernie has to restrain George from attacking Carmen's delinquent boyfriend Zack when he makes a comment of how he plans to love her and leave her.
  • Supernatural:
    • When Gadreel enters the bunker to work with Sam, Dean, and Castiel on bringing down Metatron, Dean gets close enough to nearly fatally injure him with the First Blade and then has to be held back by Sam and Castiel while he growls angrily at the angel.
  • The Cosby Show: In "Off to See the Wretched", Claire furiously confronts Vanessa lying to her and sneaking off to what would be a disastrous concert experience; Cliff has to restrain her when it looks like she's going to get physical.
  • Ultraman Taro: During the two-part episode where the Ultra Brothers in their human forms visits Kohtaro Higashi (Ultraman Taro's human host) in the middle of Arc Villain Alien Temperor's invasion, Kohtaro managed to defeat Temperor in battle and smugly tells his brothers the alien is "no big deal for a pro like him" while walking away. An enraged Seiji Hokuto (Ultraman Ace, Taro's elder brother) tries lashing out at Kohtaro from behind, while Goh Hideki (Ultraman Jack) holds Seiji back telling him to calm down.
  • Fawlty Towers: In "A Touch of Class", Basil longs to thump Lord Melbury, who has conned him; a policeman holds him back, and Basil has to take out his anger on a flowerpot instead.
    Basil: Just one! Just one!
    Policeman: (restraining him) Sorry, Mr Fawlty.
  • Early in the Family Matters episode "Life in the Fast Lane", the cheerleader captain tells Laura that she believes Laura has gained weight and, therefore, shouldn't be on top in the pyramid cheerleader routine. Laura promptly lunges at the cheerleader captain the moment the latter's back is turned, only for the other cheerleaders to hold her back before she manages to land an attack.

  • During the music video for the song "Tonight, Tonight" by The Smashing Pumpkins, the gentleman of the depicted couple that travelled to the Moon puts up his dukes when they are encountered by aliens. The lady pulls him aside, and whacks a couple aliens with her umbrella, making them pop.

  • Nadine has this habit in Dawn of a New Age: Oldport Blues. She lunges at Hyeon when he encourages Longhorn to ship her and Hyeon together, and has to be held back by Benedict. Later on she attempts to attack Travers in their classroom, and Zia has to hold her back until Josephine convinces her to calm down.

    Video Games 
  • In The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, Alduin, the draconic Big Bad Beast of the Apocalypse, flees to Sovngarde, the Nordic Warrior Heaven, after being bested by the Dragonborn once. There, the old Nordic god Tsun and the warrior spirits of Sovngarde desire to to battle Alduin when the he begins consuming the souls within Sovngarde. For unknown reasons, Shor holds them back.
  • In Super Mario RPG, when Geno informs Gaz that he's going to join Mario on a quest and Gaz agrees that Mario needs all the help he can get, Mallow has to physically restrain Mario from decking Gaz.
  • In Warcraft III, the Human Footmen say the line when ordered to attack.

    Web Animation 
  • TF2 Analysis: Played with in "A Helping Hoof". Lightning Bliss asks Finn to hold her back from laying it on Toon Critic for making constant short jokes. However, Finn doesn't quite understand the concept and is so serviable that anytime she yells "LET ME AT HIM!", he actually let goes of her, to Bliss's annoyance.


    Western Animation 
  • Played for Drama in the Captain Planet episode "Don't Drink the Water." When Plunder gloats about having "eliminated" Captain Planet and most of the Planeteers, Rigger and Bleak have to hold Wheeler back from attacking him.
  • Scooby-Doo: It's Scrappy-Doo's Catchphrase.
  • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic: When Rainbow Dash is ready to charge headfirst into a problem, Applejack's normally the one who holds her back by her tail, prompting this reaction.
  • Almost every time Spinelli tries starting a fight in Recess.
  • A pretty weird one happens in The Powerpuff Girls episode "Los Dos Mojos". When a knock on the head makes Bubbles think she's Mojo, Blossom is about to fight her, but Buttercup holds her back, reminding her that it's Bubbles. Then Bubbles insults Buttercup... And then Blossom has to hold Buttercup back.
  • Codename: Kids Next Door:
    • The Cold Open of "Operation: E.L.E.C.T.I.O.N.S." has Numbuh One trying to stop the Delightful Children From Down the Lane from giving their speech, only to be held back by security. This allows the DCFDTL to continue their speech and have Numbuh One sent to jail as their first order of business.
    • The series finale has Numbuhs One and Four being held back by their fellow operatives from attacking Numbuh 363 after he insults each of them on different occasions, simply because he's Numbuh 362's little brother.
  • Ed, Edd n Eddy:
    • "Is There An Ed In The House" has Edd wanting to get at Sarah for giving him a cold. Ed has to hold him back.
    • In "Cool Hand Ed", the Eds are trying to escape school and Jonny and Plank want to join them. When Eddy refuses, Plank threatens to snitch on them for revenge. Then Eddy tries to attack him but Ed holds him back. Eddy even yells "Let me at him!! I'll—I'll—"
    • In the movie, Lee does this when Eddy's Brother beats up her "boyfriend" Eddy in front of everyone. Her sisters have to hold her back. Seeing him use Eddy to beat down Edd shocks her enough to stop.
  • Dan Vs. episode "New Mexico" has the title character and Chris on a mission to get revenge of New Mexico. One scene in particular has the two asking a librarian at the library the books of the information of the state, in which the librarian answers is the sections between 900-908. Dan thinks the librarian is talking in codes and attempts to hop over the counter to attack him. Chris, of course, effortlessly holds him back, telling his sociopathic friend it's a "benign code".
  • Justice League Unlimited - In "Double Date", Green Arrow and Black Canary are assigned to Mandragora, a crime boss offering to testify against others, who's being as crass about Black Canary as possible. Arrow needs the feds to hold him back while Canary just stands there, confident that he can't get under her skin. Then he asks her if all the real men in the League were taken. Cut to them both being ordered out of the house.
    Black Canary: I hope you're proud of yourself. Now we have to do guard duty from outside.
    Green Arrow: Hope I'm proud of myself? You're the one that punched him!
  • In the Hey Arnold! episode "Bag of Money", Gerald has to drag away a kicking-and-screaming Sid when he accuses Arnold of being a thief.
  • Sym-Bionic Titan: The Whole Episode Flashback episode "Escape from Galaluna" has Lance being restrained by two other soldiers for punching his commander after he accuses him of killing hostages. The commander later on turns out to be a traitor.
  • Family Guy: In "Brian Griffin's House of Payne", Joe tries to attack Brian after watching his massacred TV pilot, leaving Peter and Quagmire to hold him back. Bonnie (who apparently had to deal with this before) advised them to keep his anus above his head.
  • Bugs Bunny literally says this in the intro to Tortoise Beats Hare, after reading the title card.
  • DuckTales (2017): In "Beware the B.U.D.D.Y. System!", Scrooge and Dewey have to hold Gyro back from attacking his intern Fenton when he finds out that Mark Beaks plagiarized his Robot Buddy invention because Fenton leaked the schematics onto the Internet.
  • In the Donald Duck cartoon "The Vanishing Private", Sergeant Pete invokes this trope word for word when he sees the invisible Donald's footprints appear behind the General - who is busy trying to talk him down from throwing around the armload of live hand grenades he is using to blow Donald out of hiding. As the General is already convinced Pete has gone completely bananas, he tries to restrain Pete and so doesn't notice Donald help himself to the sword from his dress uniform and stab Pete in the backside with it, causing him to drop the grenades.
  • Parodied in The Amazing World of Gumball episode "The Man". Richard is furious at his mother's new boyfriend Louie, but won't actually hurt an old man, so he gets his sons to grab his arm and leg as Louie walks out his door.
    Richard: LEMME AT 'EM! LEMME AT 'EM! You're lucky they're here, or you'd end up in a mobility scooter for the rest of your life!
  • Total Drama: It's a recurring joke in the series.
    • Harold welcomes Leshawna to the island by calling her big and loud in "Not So Happy Campers - Part 1". Naturally, she takes offense and gets ready to batter him to his knees when Bridgette and DJ jump in to hold her back and save Harold.
    • In "The Big Sleep", Eva gets violent towards Chris when he interrupts the campers' sleep to send them on a long run without even any breakfast. Duncan and Geoff hold her back physically while Courtney tries to talk sense into her.
    • Heather has zero sympathy for the rash Leshawna gets from touching pineapple, despite that she pointedly ignored Leshawna's protests when she ordered her to slice them in "If You Can't Take the Heat...". She tells Leshawna to scratch only after the challenge is over and to get back to work, upon which Leshawna charges at her. Gwen, Lindsay, and Beth physically prevent her from going through with the beatdown.
    • In "Million Dollar Babies", Lindsay gets angry at Chris when he declares Harold the winner of the boxing match for technical reasons despite that Lindsay knocked him out. Lindsay prepares to take her punches to Chris, but Justin and Courtney hold her back.
    • In "Greece's Pieces", once Courtney learns that Duncan, who's not present at the time, cheated on her with Gwen, she turns to her teammate and prepares to do her bodily harm. Sierra keeps a hold on Courtney, even lifting her from the ground at one point, to prevent things getting out of hand.
    • Scott convinces everyone that Dawn is the one who went around stealing whatever she could in "Backstabbers Ahoy!". Anne Maria wants to beat her up for stealing her hairbrush, but Jo, whose whistle was stolen, stops her teammate in her tracks not to save Dawn, but to call dibs.
    • In "A Mine Is a Terrible Thing to Waste", Anne Maria, Scott, and Zoey are flung from their mine cart into an underwater lake, where Scott lands on top of Anne Maria. Anne Maria rises up, throws him off of her, and is all set to beat him mercilessly for the affront, but Zoey grabs her arms to hold her back, arguing it was an accident.
    • Sugar aims to take down Ella in "I Love You, I Love You Knots" for using pageant talk. Fortunately for Ella, Sugar gets restrained by Dave and Shawn.
    • In "I Love You, I Love You Knots", Rodney taunts the chicken Clucky by telling her he eats six eggs a day. She wants to fight him, but Chris holds her back with both his arms and words... for a few minutes.
  • Wakfu: In "The Gobbowl Inferno - Part 1", Eva has to physically hold back Amalia from a shopkeeper she gets mad at. Meanwhile, Yugo and Pinpin have to hold back Ruel from attacking the boat seller.