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Made Out to Be a Jerkass

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Claudia: Wait a minute. How did I become the bad guy?
Henry: You made Uncle Eddie leave. Now I'm going to have a porno birthday!
Grounded for Life, "All Apologies"

So, this guy has been a total Jerkass to you and you've finally had enough and snap. You stand up to him, give him a "The Reason You Suck" Speech, and tell him off for everything he's done to you. Should be a Moment of Awesome, right? Well, guess what? You were so harsh on the guy that you hurt his feelings. Even worse, your display was witnessed and the only thing that everyone saw was you being mean to him! Congratulations. Everyone thinks you're the jerk instead of the guy you just told off!

This can lead to a Broken Aesop, except that Values Dissonance makes it widely accepted, where being a jerk back is even worse than what the original Jerkass did to you. Can result from being a Bully Hunter. A villain, especially a Villain with Good Publicity, may use this to give a hero bad cred. If the victim of this trope were friends with anyone who witnessed this scene prior to this moment, it probably triggers an Et Tu, Brute? and We Used to Be Friends situation. In some cases, the ones who believed the retaliator is in the wrong may force them to apologize to the insulted jerk, and end up finding out that the calling out they were given was justified after all.

Contrast Engineered Public Confession. Can also happen with Hypocrites who don't like being given A Taste of Their Own Medicine. When it's the viewers that feel this way, it's Rooting for the Empire and Accentuate the Negative. If your own pet turns against you along with everybody else, that's Even the Dog Is Ashamed. Common constructors of the trope are those with Head-in-the-Sand Management especially with a Villain with Good Publicity, or Principles Zealots by blindly preaching peaceful options especially when they are not the solution.

This trope is Truth in Television. Sometimes bad timing means only the retaliation and not the original Jerkass behavior being witnessed by peers or authority figures; other times it's because they don't care what wrongdoings are going on so long as things stay quiet, or there's a Bitch in Sheep's Clothing at work.

There are some tropes that are comparable to this:


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    Comic Books 
  • In the lead up to Infinite Crisis, Maxwell Lord takes control of Superman, making him attack the rest of the Justice League and intending to have Superman go on a rampage that will turn the world against all metahumans. Wonder Woman, after having pleaded with Max to cease his actions and doing everything in her power to subdue Superman without killing him, ultimately kills Max who himself admitted this was the only way to stop his plan. Due to footage of the incident being edited in such a way to make her look like the bad guy, Wonder Woman is shunned by the public for several years and even Superman and Batman, both of whom knew the entire context of the situation, turn on her.
  • Superman:
    • During the Sterling Gates run, General Sam Lane and his minions Reactron and Superwoman used this tactic against the eponymous heroine over and over again: they harass Supergirl and try to murder her, and when Kara defends herself, she gets in trouble for aggravated assault and battery, and even attempted murder in Who is Superwoman?.
    • In Supergirl: Cosmic Adventures in the 8th Grade, Linda Lee's classmates glare at her when they hear her recorded voice calling them "shallow, petty, mean and bad-smelling". That would be understandable, except that she was venting after spending several weeks putting up with their bullying and their mocking.
    • In the beginning of Strangers at the Heart's Core, Supergirl throws Shyla Kor-Onn back into the Phantom Zone so she does not free the remaining inmates. Shyla gets released from the Phantom Zone later in the story, and she uses the fact that Kara was not legally authorized to send her back into the prison-dimension to claim Kara was just jealous of the presence of another Kryptonian female on Earth.
    • In Superman (Vol.2) #10, Lex Luthor designs a combat robot invisible to non-Kryptonian eyes so that, when Superman engages him, casual observers think the Man of Steel is going berserker and tearing the area down while fighting with no one.
    • In Starfire's Revenge, the titular villainess executes her minion Derek and then feeds his brother Rodney the lie that Supergirl killed Derek due to being turned into a mad berserker by an experimental drug.
    • In The Hunt for Reactron, Sam Lane frames Kara, Chris and Thara for murder and acts of terrorism, sends Science Police K-Squads after them, and then gets his men to record and broadcast the battle, framing it as the K-Squads defending themselves from the Kryptonian menace.
    • In The Plague of the Antibiotic Man, Superman discovers the origin of the contagious disease spreading all over Central City is a shape-shifting creature called Jevik sent by his enemy Amalak. Unfortunately, he finds out that Jevik is masking as a little dog adopted by his co-worker Steve Lombard' nephew Jamie. Hence, when Superman tries to dispose of Jevik, the horrified little boy thinks Superman is going to kill his pet.
    • The Super-Revenge of Lex Luthor: As part of a ploy to drive Superman crazy, Lex Luthor announces he has reformed and he is going to return the money he stole from all his bank holdups as Superman is away. When Superman returns, unaware of Luthor's "repentance", and spots what looks right like one of Luthor's bank-busting robots transporting a suspicious bomb-looking object to one bank, he destroys the robot and is immediately berated by everyone for interfering with Luthor's reform.
  • Ultimate Spider-Man: After Peter accidentally breaks Flash Thompson's hand by blocking one of his punches, his parents sue Aunt May and Uncle Ben for the medical costs.
  • In a flashback scene in Watchmen, young Walter Korvacs is being harassed by a couple of older kids because his mother is a prostitute, so Korvacs takes one kid's cigarette and stabs him in the eye with it. Korvacs is sent to juvenile hall while the bully receives no official punishment.

    Film — Animated 

    Film — Live-Action 
  • In Home Alone, Buzz deliberately eats all of Kevin's cheese pizza then tells him to get a plate as he pretends to throw up, leading to Kevin angrily shoving him and causing a Disaster Dominoes effect throughout the kitchen. Afterwards, Kevin is blamed for the mess and sent to the third floor by his mother while everyone ignores the fact that Buzz started it.
  • In Stephen King's It, when Ben is tormented by his cousin Bradley over his crush on Beverly, he retaliates. Ben's aunt then comes in to pull Ben off of her son and scold him, not even reprimanding her son when he tells Ben he hates him and he's only with them because it's their duty to house him.
  • In The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King, Sam can only lash out at Gollum's false accusations. It doesn't help (though it's actually the Ring making Frodo be more sympathetic to Gollum).

  • In Breaking Dawn, Leah tells off Bella for the way she's been treating Jacob. Bella then bursts into tears and everybody, including Jacob, gets mad at Leah for upsetting her.
  • My Repair Skill Became An Almighty Cheat: Not only does the "hero" Falcone blame Luke for the loss of supplies due to his own carelessness, but Falcone's backer turns around and accuses Luke of abandoning the hero party and leaving them to die instead, purely to steal the Hero's sword, and when that accusation is debunked, then tries to accuse Luke of killing the hero to cover up a mithril smuggling operation. When that accusation also gets debunked, The King tells the guy, "shut it, you damn windbag" albeit in far more diplomatic terms.
  • Queen of Babble: Monsieur Henri when he returns to work in Book Three after his heart attack. He's shocked at all the changes that Lizzie has made to the shop, which includes a new cappuccino bar and salmon awning, and says that it's not his business anymore. Tiffany and Madame Henri explicitly call him an Ungrateful Bastard for not appreciating that Lizzie increased their business by 1000 percent. Lizzie understands, however, that he nearly died and is dealing with some reservations about where his life is going.
  • In The Zombie Knight, on Cisco Elroy's first day at a new school, he beat up a kid who tried to bully him, and since they were both unknowns the teachers concluded that Cisco was the bully. The reputation unfortunately stuck, and since then all the good teachers have been biased against him and all the wrong people want to be his friends.

  • In The Monstrous Duke's Adopted Daughter, Leslie Speràdo has been marked as a Human Sacrifice by her entire family and treated like crap her whole life, and she was desperate to earn their affection. After the family servants tied a rope around her neck and tried to drag her into a fire, and her own father, tired of waiting, shoved her in himself with a quarterstaff, she wakes up, in her dim attic room, having miraculously survived. Realizing that winning affection in that household is an exercise in futility, she pointedly doesn't put up with their crap anymore, relatives or servants, and starts pushing back. At this point, the entire household does everything in their power to mark her as evil, or crazy, or both.

    Visual Novels 
  • Downplayed in Double Homework. When Dennis has revealed the protagonist’s video game addiction to the class, he can choose to defend himself. In this case, Dennis apologizes, making himself look good, while the protagonist looks like the jerk. Still, the class remains firmly on his side against Dennis in the long run.

  • In Ozy and Millie, Millie has been physically bullied by Jeremy for years, but the one time Millie hit back was the one time her teacher was watching. And the school only punishes what its teachers personally see, even if the "aggressor" was visibly dripping mud water at the time, a policy that the teacher all but admits was born of sheer laziness.
    Millie's mom: Was it painful, having your soul extracted?
  • In Girl Genius, Agatha feels like this when Zola, the Knights of Jove's fake Heterodyne, bursts into tears after being captured.
    Agatha: I get it. I see where this is going. She came here, claiming to be the Heterodyne, with her stupid pink airship and her perfect pretty clothes and her cheap theatrics, trying to steal my town and my castle. Not to mention she tried to kill me, and is probably the one responsible for the army of clanks at my gate. But I'm the big meanie, because I made Princess Psycho cry.

    Web Original 


Video Example(s):


Think money solves everything?

Ga-yeong, Gi-hun's daughter, witnesses her father beating up her stepdad, implicitly putting a nail in the coffin of their already estranged relationship. Unbeknownst to her, her stepdad tried to bribe him into not seeing her again.

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Main / MadeOutToBeAJerkass

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