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Nobody Calls Me "Chicken"!

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Griff Tannen: What's wrong, McFly? CHICKEN?!
(Data plays a chicken sound effect)
Marty McFly: What did you call me, Griff?
Griff: Chicken, McFly!
Marty: Nobody. Calls me...
(Griff whips out a baseball bat)
Marty: [chuckles nervously] ...chicken.

Some heroes take so much pride in themselves that they just can't turn a challenge down. To do so would be an affront to their personal honor. It would imply that they don't have the courage to go through with what would happen if they failed. Moreover, by showing that they lack the resolve to go through with the challenge implies that they think they'd lose. And by gosh, no hero of ours is going to be a loser!

Inevitably, though, a situation will arise that's so over-the-top that even the most headstrong character is going to think, "Maybe it isn't worth risking my life in a chainsaw-juggling contest just because I accidentally said that guy's hair looks like a mullet". It's here that only one thing has to be said to get the character to go through with the crazy scheme anyway.

"What are you? Chicken? Buk-buk!"

Of course, this doesn't always end well. Often, insulting a character's courage can end up pushing the Berserk Button, and the opposition will promptly get taken to the cleaners on whatever the bet was. Sometimes this is done deliberately thanks to a tricky mentor to get the hero to do something he is unlikely to do for any other reason.

By contrast, things can go very badly if the villain is deliberately manipulating the hero into doing something stupid, using the hero's pride as a means of accomplishment. Expect a great deal of evil laughing as this devious plot unfolds.

Sometimes a character doesn't like to be called a Dirty Coward because he actually is one. This can go one of two ways: He might chicken out at the last minute and head for the hills, making him a Miles Gloriosus. Or he might live up to his blustering and win the fight anyway, Becoming the Boast.

This can also become a verbal form of Get A Hold Of Yourself Man if it is directed at someone specifically for the purpose of inspiring them to action, or to shake a normally-badass person out of a Heroic BSoD.

The Inverted Trope is when the character puts up with being called a chicken because deep down they really aren't one; that's The So-Called Coward.

Subtrope of Inspirational Insult. Compare Fearless Fool. Closely related to Game of Chicken, an often foolish challenge to see which player chickens out first. Not to be confused with Cowardice Callout, although the two can overlap.

Contrast Blinded by Rage, when this is used to exploit the angered guy's outburst to his detriment.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • Vegeta in Dragon Ball Z is goaded by Cell into sparing him just long enough for Cell to become powerful enough that they can have a "fair fight". Vegeta even beats up the other characters who try to stop him. Needless to say, this doesn't end well.
  • In Eyeshield 21, after Leonard Apollo arrogantly cancels the Japan vs. America football match between the Deimon Devil Bats and the Nasa Aliens, Hiruma baits him into going through with it by making a viral video that, among other indignities, depicts Apollo as a chicken.
  • Food Wars!: Soma provokes Etsuya Eizan into competing against him by asking him "Are you threatened by me?" in an obviously mocking way. This riles Eizan up so much that he ends up taking the bait, resulting in his defeat and the start of his fall from grace among the Elite Ten.
  • During the climax of JoJo's Bizarre Adventure: Golden Wind, Diavolo is considering pulling a Screw This, I'm Outta Here after Giorno gets his hands on the Requiem arrow. When Diavolo's estranged daughter Trish calls him out on it, Diavolo's titanic ego causes him to stay and fight instead... and promptly finds himself on the receiving end of a Curb-Stomp Battle leading to an And I Must Scream Fate Worse than Death at the hands of Giorno's new Story-Breaker Power.
  • The titular character of Kenichi: The Mightiest Disciple has a big case of this. He's not a huge fan of violence and fighting in general, almost to the point of pacifism, but the biggest way to get him to fight you (aside from threatening his Love Interest Miu) is to call him a chicken or a coward, at which point he will turn around and give you a massive ass-kicking.
  • In Chapter 2 of Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha INNOCENT, Lord Dearche manages to goad a reluctant Alicia into joining the team match by calling her, well...
    Dearche: I guess you're happy with your current number of losses to me, hey, LITTLE CHICKEN?
  • One Piece:
    • Ace falls prey to this whenever anyone badmouths Whitebeard or threatens his little brother. Indeed, his original purpose in the series is to hunt down Blackbeard after his "insult" of killing a fellow crewmember. This trait tends to go poorly for Ace though as he always gets defeated/captured/hurt whenever this trope takes effect (we even learn after the fact that Ace's battle against Blackbeard was an example of this as Ace couldn't leave Blackbeard alone even if he wanted to due to both the threat he posed to Luffy and the insult to Whitebeard that would occur if he had abandoned the battle. He loses this battle horribly and gets captured as a result). Finally, in what is the most apt example of this trope, Ace, after having just been freed from execution in Marineford, gets goaded into a fight with Admiral Akainu via the latter purposely insulting Whitebeard. Then, to make matters worse, Akainu invokes Ace's Big Brother Instinct by suddenly attacking his little brother, resulting in Ace taking the punch for Luffy. "Going badly" understates the result of this as Ace dies from this even though he's in a series well known for its fluid mortality.
    • This trope is also the crux of the character interaction between Luffy, Eustass Kid, and Trafalgar Law. Whenever one of the three insinuates the other two of their lack of courage, they're sure to step up to the challenge, however stupid. Right from when they first met, their initial team-up against the Marines came out of Kid suggesting he was "rescuing" the other two.
  • This is why Red in Pokémon Adventures agrees to battle Giovanni, even though Red would be forced to join Team Rocket if he loses.
  • A Fatal Flaw of Ann from Pretty Rhythm: Rainbow Live is that she is stubborn and refuses to back down when she's taunted. In the first story arc, she falls for Wakana's taunting and accepts her challenge despite knowing that Wakana has more experience in performing Prism Shows.
  • Ranma ½ has the titular character accept all challenges for a duel, no matter how unreasonable or uneven the stakes because of Ranma's strong sense of pride and unwillingness to let anyone have any excuse to call him a coward. At times this was so irrational that he even accepted things like "cuteness" challenges, where Ranma had to prove that he was the cutest competitor even when he didn't want people to think of him that way at all. Whenever Ranma gets involved in some contest that revolves around proving his "femininity", it's invariably either due to wounded pride or because he's been forced into it.
    • Played with in at least one case. Shampoo tries to egg Akane on by telling her that Ranma will date her if she wins the Martials Arts Takeout Delivery contest, trying to provoke Akane into going all You Know What You Did on him. Several minutes later Shampoo actually tries to make the ridiculous proposal to Ranma and he accepts.
    • Cologne exploits this trait in her first duel with Ranma for the sake of Hustling the Mark: when it seems the young martial artist is whipping the floor with the little old lady, the latter challenges Ranma formally and gets him to agree to marry Shampoo if she wins. Ranma, high on his near-certain victory, agrees, and Cologne immediately beats him into paste.
  • Record of Ragnarok opens with the gods deciding humanity isn't worth their effort and that they'd wipe the Earth clean and start over, only for the Valkyrie Brunhild to propose that humanity be given a chance to fight for their survival. When they call it pointless and try to refuse, she taunts them into accepting by loudly accusing them of "chickening out".
  • The Yu-Gi-Oh! ZEXAL dub gives us this gem:
    Yuma: Maybe you're just a big chicken!
    Shark: Chicken? Do you know what happened to the last person who called me a chicken?
    Yuma: Something, uh, bad?
    Shark: I don't know, because it's NEVER EVER happened before!

    Comic Books 
  • In Fantastic Four #1, Ben Grimm has a not unreasonable objection to Reed Richards' plan to steal an experimental space rocket and fly it through lethal cosmic rays, leading to...
    Sue Storm: Ben, we've got to take that chance unless we want the Commies to beat us to it. I never thought that you would be a coward.
    Ben Grimm: A coward! Nobody calls me a coward!
  • Superman:
    • In Krypton No More story arc, Superman refuses to undertake a space mission and his cousin Supergirl slaps him and calls him a coward. Several hours later, Clark is still brooding about it.
      Clark: Coward... She called me a coward.
    • In Kryptonite Nevermore, third-rate supervillain Nyxly challenged Superman to a death duel. Superman was weakened but he appeared because "Whatever else Superman may be... He's no coward!"
    • In The Superman Adventures, Jimmy Olsen thinks that Perry White was calling him a coward during his latest chewing-out, and he is not pleased. Later, he puts himself in danger to get a good shot, something Perry said was essential for a good newsman.
    • In All-Star Superman, Atlas and Samson both challenge Superman for the right to go out with Lois Lane. He walks away until they call him a coward. He then takes them on in One-Sided Arm-Wrestling.
  • In the Supergirl story arc Red Daughter of Krypton, Lobo taunts Supergirl, stating that she's afraid to cut loose. In reaction, Kara goes ballistic and delivers a brutal No-Holds-Barred Beatdown to him.
    Supergirl: He thinks I'm weak. He thinks I won't do it...
  • Wynonna Earp: Calling Ike Clanton a coward is surefire way to push his Berserk Button.
  • In Shazam! (2012), Captain Marvel and Black Adam battle, but are too evenly matched. Marvel gets an idea and proposes they fight equally as mortals. He says Shazam to turn back into little Billy Batson. Black Adam calls him a fool and prepares to kill him, but Billy calls him a coward for not taking his challenge. Enraged, Black Adam says "Shazam" to depower himself, which is what Billy was counting on. Since Black Adam was kept alive for centuries by his powers, he rapidly ages into dust.
  • Ultimate Marvel:
    • Ultimate Spider-Man
      • While Ox had never actually met the Kingpin, Montana told him that he couldn't defeat him, and he shouldn't even joke about it... leading Ox to think this meant he had to fight the Kingpin.
      • Electro calls Spider-Man a "slippery little yutz". Peter is halfway through saying "nobody calls me a yutz" when Electro drops him.
    • Ultimate Vision: Tarleton tries to manipulate the Vision with this. It doesn't work. She has no problem admitting that she is afraid of Gah Lak Tus.
  • An Archie story from the 60s had Jughead being called a chicken for declining a cave exploring trip with the others.
    Jughead: Mr. Chicken to you. And you'd better watch out for cave-ins!
  • In Combat Kelly and his Deadly Dozen, Ace Pilot 'Mad Dog' Martin had been imprisoned on a charge of cowardice in the face of the enemy, so being called a coward was his Berserk Button. When "Ace Hamiliton—who is at least a head taller than Martin—calls him a coward, Martin immediately attacks him and has to be hauled off by the other members of the Dozen.

    Comic Strips 
  • U.S. Acres: In the 1996-10-29 strip, a worm dared Booker (a literal chicken, mind you) to cross a line and vanished inside his hole before Booker responded. After Booker crossed the line, the same worm (or another one) showed up from another hole and acted like Booker had yet to decide if he'd accept the challenge or not. Booker was confused.

    Fan Works 
  • Abraxas (Hrodvitnon): Ghidorah apparently doesn't like being called a chicken at all. Thor attempts to sucker Ghidorah into fighting him this way, but Ghidorah instead sets MaNi on him, so the trope is subverted.
  • In the Power Girl fic A Force of Four, Wonder Woman tries to goad Badra into unchaining her and fighting her. Unfortunately the villain doesn't take the bait.
    "Would you like to punish me, Wonder Woman?" she cooed. "Would you like to try your famous Amazon strength against my mere Hatorian body?"
    "You know the answer, coward," said Princess Diana. "But unchain me now, and I'll let you have the first three blows. If your might is all you claim it is, then that should be enough, should it not?" Diana plastered a sneer on her face, trying to incite the woman to rage.
    Badra replied, "I am not so foolish as to relinquish my own advantage, Diana. Held by those man-joined chains, your power is negated. Freed, you might be a threat to me... so the fetters will remain until the time of your execution. Or should I say, your murder?"
  • Back to the Future Prequel: Marty, even though he's scared of "The Doctor", spray-paints his house to avoid being called scared.
  • Common Sense: In Chapter 21, Misty, who is still sore about Ash defeating her in Cerulean City, and refusing to accept that he's grown stronger than her, tries to goad him into a battle by accusing him of being afraid to battle her. This ends up hitting Ash's Rage Breaking Point, since she's trivializing everything he's gone through due to Team Rocket at that point, and after giving her a good "The Reason You Suck" Speech, he proceeds to trash her entire team with one Pokémon.
  • Ghosts of Evangelion: If Asuka wants to get Shinji do something he isn't sure about, everything she has to do is taunting him. That trick still works when they are in their thirties (and Shinji is quite miffed about it).
    Asuka rolled her eyes. "Stupid Shinji, just knock on the door."
    He balked. "Why do I have to do it? You're the impetuous one, you do it."
    She flushed, irritated. "Damn it, Shinji…"
    "Hey," he said, "I'm just as nervous as you are, you know!"
    "Tch," she said. "Coward."
    Shinji's brows knit. "I am not!" His fist clenched in determination, and he raised his hand and knocked on the door. He glanced at her sidelong. "Why does that still work?" he grumbled.
    She raised her arms. "Who can say?" she asked, smirking at him.
  • In Hellsister Trilogy, Supergirl goads Satan Girl into fighting in the anti-matter universe. Satan Girl initially refuses to take the bait, but Kara knows which buttons to push.
    Kara stopped at the warp-gate and looked behind her. Satan Girl had stopped as well, less than a mile behind her. To her credit, she wasn't stupid. She knew that Supergirl was leading her on. And, having Kara's memories, she knew where she was headed.
    <That is the anti-matter universe,> sent Satan Girl.
    <Oh, very good,> mocked Kara, smiling like a teacher tutoring her most backward pupil. <Now, if you'll just join me here, I can finish you right off.>
    The villainess didn't budge. <It'll blow us both to bits if we touch any substance there without force-shields or matter-conversion,> she sent. <I can just wait you out. You'll come back, or you'll be atomized. Either way, I win.>
    <Oh, will you?>, asked Kara. <I thought for certain that you wanted to tear me apart with your own hands. Except it hasn't been that easy, has it? Maybe you're just not up to it, after all... since you're just a pretty pathetic copy of me.>
    Satan Girl's expression of hatred, which was about the only one she owned, intensified. <YOU...> she began, and that was all she could get out.
    <Just one more thing, darling,> sent Kara. <I didn't want to have to tell you this, but we killed Mordru. He's dead. Hope you didn't get attached to him too much.>
    At that, Supergirl knew she had succeeded.
  • The Ikaris uses this to put the plot into motion. The gang finds Misato's beer stash and Asuka dares Shinji to drink. Then he dares her to try and out-drink him. By the end of it, the two are so blasted, they got married and forgot about it the next morning.
  • A Future of Friendship, a History of Hate: This is how Fury Cross goads Rainbow Dash into fighting him in Episode 3. Notably, she doesn't really care about the specific insults, she just can't stand anyone disrespecting her or her reputation in any way.
  • In Buffy the Vampire Slayer/Supergirl crossover The Vampire of Steel, Kara baits Zol-Am into accepting her personal combat challenge by adding "If your commander is too scared to face me one-on-one, I’ll understand."
  • In Heart of the Inferno, Galadriel gets Smaug to help her Elves against the Orcs attacking Lothlórien by suggesting that the famed dragon-dread is too cowardly to stand up against Sauron.
    Galadriel: Perhaps I was mistaken, then. Perhaps you are not the famed dragon-dread who could slay an army as he did the great warriors of old. Perhaps you are just a snake too craven to stand against the Dark Lord.
    [Smaug nearly attacks her, but then ponders on what Sauron has done to him and Kathryn, and makes up his mind]
    Smaug: For what Sauron has done, I vow to kill him and all that he rules for this insult!
  • Fates Collide: Mercury Black challenges Gilgamesh to a fight, but he refuses because he sees Mercury as nothing but a weak mongrel... until Mercury calls him a coward. Gilgamesh thrashes him.
  • In A Prize for Three Empires, Carol Danvers successfully baits Deathbird into a one-to-one duel by calling her a coward.
    Deathbird: Do not tempt me overmuch, woman. Thus far I have shown you mercy. I could bring you to trial lacking your eyes or tongue, or both, and nothing would be said about it so long as you could speak or write your responses. You try my patience.
    Warbird: So far, Deathbird, all you’ve shown me is cowardice. Way back when, you weren’t afraid to face me one-on-one, mano y mano, with both my hands untied and you armed with those claws and a spear. I may have beaten you, but you gave me a hell of a fight both times. Now you talk about maiming me while I’ve got both arms locked up. That isn’t the mark of a monarch or a warrior. That’s just the mark of a coward.
    Gladiator: Te’ Warbird, have a care. Even I cannot protect you from everything.
    Warbird: Maybe she wants you to protect her from me. Ever think of that, Gladiator? Maybe she just doesn’t have what she used to, when she was a fighter.
    Deathbird: For such impudence, I would strip another’s flesh from her face. Then I would let them bleed to death in their bonds.
    Warbird: If you do that, everybody here will know you for a coward. They may not say it to your face, but they’ll know it in their hearts. You will, too.
  • The Punch-Out!! fanfic Shining and Sweet: Katrina calling him chicken is what prompts Aran Ryan to join the snowball fight.

    Films — Animated 
  • Done in The Simpsons Movie where Homer gets Bart to skateboard nude across town as part of a dare.
  • On Peter Pan, Captain Hook calls Peter a coward for flying away instead of fighting him man to man. Peter says "No one calls Pan a coward and lives" and gives his word to fight Hook without flying.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Back to the Future:
    • This trope is named for the line in Back to the Future Part II and Part III, where Marty is shown to be easily provoked whenever someone questions/challenges his courage. While this initially works well, pushing Marty's Berserk Button and allowing him to outmaneuver several future bullies, we also see past, present and future scenarios where this proud attitude causes very bad portents for him, with risk of job loss, crippling physical injury, and death all as possible results.
    • This is a reference to Rebel Without a Cause, where it's such a Berserk Button that it ends up getting people killed. Marty seemed to have learned his lesson in the third movie but he still fell victim to the trope in the animated series.
    • One of the reasons Marty learned better was because he met his great-great-grandfather Seamus, who had a brother named Martin, who was stabbed in a foolish fight because someone called him a coward.
    • This character trait is notably absent in the first film. Fridge Logic suggests he may have been subtly affected by the changes he made to the past (either by witnessing the events or by somehow merging into/with the version of himself from the new timeline), specifically his parents getting together because his scrawny teenaged dad rescued his mom from a much larger and physically tougher would-be-rapist. The Marty of the second and third films may be trying to live up to that heroic moment and trying to prove his own "courage" whenever it is challenged/questioned.
    • The novelization took the point a bit further; as Needles peels out and Marty backs away, Jennifer ask him what's going on. Marty replies, "He's nobody," referring to Needles.
  • In The California Kid, Lyle asks out Sissy, a girl who's more interested in cars than the boys who drive them. Sissy won't go out with him unless he's willing to drive her places, but Lyle isn't willing because he doesn't have his driver's license yet. Sissy says, "Me and Tom used to go out when he had his learner's. But if you're scared or something..." Lyle caves and agrees to take her out in his brother's car. While they're driving, she goads him to go faster so they can spend more time at Make-Out Point. The sheriff deals with their traffic violation in his usual manner: by running them off the road, killing Lyle and badly injuring Sissy.
  • In Confessions of a Psycho Cat, Virginia is able to goad Rocco out of hiding to come and fight her by calling him a coward and insulting his manhood.
  • Curse of the Undead: At The Sheriff's urging, Buffer is willing to ignore Tim Carter's drunken goading and walk away. Right up until Tim calls him a "yellowbelly". At that he turns and a gunfight is inevitable.
  • Hancock is about to abandon prison and heads for the door when his friend Ray calls him out ("You're being a coward!") which makes Hancock change his mind.
  • In Heathers, Heather Chandler is challenged to drink from a cup of unknown content. First she denies, but immediately succumbs to her pride.
    Heather: "Think l'll drink it just because yοu call me chicken? ... Just give me the cup, jerk!"
  • In Hot to Trot, Fred Chaney's step father can't believe that Fred's entering Don the horse into a race, and considers making a bet, pointing out that he can bet Don (when Fred says he has nothing to bet). He calls Fred chicken shit, then laughs off the bet, but when Fred calls his step father chicken shit, this pushes him into betting all of his horses (including his girlfriends beloved Satin Doll), just because nobody calls him chicken shit.
  • In Jumanji, when Alan refuses to finish playing the game, Peter tells Judy "It's OK, he's afraid." This quickly changes Alan's tune. Peter later says he learned the technique from their dad.
  • In Kingsman: The Secret Service, Dean's line in The Stinger to Eggsy "Why don't you ask that tailor friend of yours, and knock up a nice chicken costume?" prompts the latter to prepare for an Ironic Echo Bar Brawl.
  • In the film The Poseidon Adventure, toward the end, Mr. Rogo is suffering a Heroic BSoD after the successive deaths of his wife, Linda, and Reverend Scott, who had just done a Heroic Sacrifice. Martin shakes him back into action by asking him derisively if he preferred to go out "on his belly".
  • Done in Rookie of the Year when Henry provokes a baserunner to take base so he can get him out.
  • Johnny in The Room (2003) invokes this. "You're just a chicken! Cheeeeeeep cheep-cheep-cheep-cheep-cheep-cheep..."
  • Spaceballs: "What's the matter, Colonel Sandurz? Chicken?"
  • In Starkweather, Charlie decides to not to commit robbery and murder and is driving away from the gas station. His infuriated Imaginary Enemy, the Dark Man, starts calling him a coward and chickenshit. That last one so stings Charlie that he turns the car around, drives back to the gas station and kills the attendant.
  • Star Trek: First Contact: When Picard starts going full-on Captain Ahab against the Borg, everyone tells him the sensible idea is to just blow up the Enterprise with the Borg on it, including Worf, who actually calls Picard on his obsession. Picard calls Worf a coward, and he snarls that if Picard were any other man, he'd kill him where he stands.
  • In Thor, Thor, Loki and the Warriors Three visit the Frost Giants domain to demands answers for a failed attack. Loki manages to calm the situation and convince the leader of the Frost Giants to let them leave without a fight. The group are about to do so when...
    Frost Giant: (To Thor) Run back home, little princess.
    (Cue Thor grinning and readying his hammer)
    Loki: ...Damn.
  • Used several times in Tombstone. Accusing Wyatt Earp of being a coward takes some balls, it must be said.
  • In Undercover Brother, Lance goes off the deep end when he gets called a sissy.

  • David from Animorphs has a huge complex about being seen as cowardly and weak, to the point of doing extremely stupid things to make himself look good. When he betrays the team, it's in part due to Blood Knight Rachel denouncing him as a coward.
  • The Berenstain Bears and the Double Dare has Brother Bear dealing with peer pressure. On a number of occasions, Too-Tall Grizzly, who invites Brother to join his gang calls him a chicken for not wanting to get involved in the gang's idea of "fun".
  • In Eric, or Little by Little, Duncan and Wildney invite Eric to sneak out to the pub with them to buy beer. Eric says it isn't worth it. Wildney says, 'I believe you think I'm afraid, and what's more, I believe you're afraid.' Furious that a younger boy would accuse him of cowardice, Eric agrees to go to the pub.
  • Fire & Blood: At the very start of the Dance of the Dragons, Prince Aemond runs into Prince Lucerys while they've both acting as diplomatic envoys to Boros Baratheon. Aemond wants to get revenge for Lucerys cutting his eye out as a kid, while Lucerys would rather just deliver his message and go (Boros doesn't care either way, just so long as they don't do it under his roof). As Lucerys leaves, Boros' daughter Maris taunts Aemond by asking if he lost an eye or his balls, setting Aemond into a rage. He chases Lucerys down and effortlessly kills him, solidifying the Dance into all-out war.
  • Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire: Harry Potter and Lord Voldemort face each other in a Wizard Duel in a graveyard, but the much more experienced Voldemort soon has Harry on the ropes and starts torturing him. Harry eventually manages to dodge a spell and then hide among the tombstones. Voldemort mocks Harry as a coward and unworthy of his parents, who fought Voldemort head on and died on their feet. Enraged, Harry declares to himself that he will not die a coward and comes out to face him.
  • Not Quite a Mermaid: In Mermaid Fire, Electra's class goes beyond the safety of the reef into the open ocean for the first time. Electra overhears some older girls calling her and her friends 'little' and 'sweet' and saying they must be scared to dive deep. Electra says, 'I'm not scared!' and says she can dive as deep as they can, even when the older girls tell her they've dived almost all the way to the seabed. Electra's anger at the girls is part of the reason she decides to dive down into the twilight zone, where she gets tangled in a sea fir. She does make it all the way to the seabed by the end of the book.
  • The Silmarillion: Morgoth is a little bit of an Orcus on His Throne considering the amount of power that he started out with, but when Fingolfin calls him a coward, he suckers Morgoth into a duel.
  • Sir Gawain and the Green Knight: The Green Knight enters King Arthur's court and challenges anyone to strike him, on the condition that he'll be allowed to return the blow in a year and a day. At first, no one is willing to take the challenge, so the Green Knight calls them all cowards. Enraged, Sir Gawain takes the challenge and decapitates him. Unfortunately, the Green Knight picks up his head, reminds him to meet him in a year and a day, and leaves.
  • The Someday Birds: At the waterpark, Charlie at first refuses to go on the big slide, but he decides to go when the twins make fun of him for being scared.
  • In A Song of Ice and Fire, Brienne uses this tactic to save Jaime Lannister's life after he loses his right hand. Jaime's pretty much hoping to die at that point, and doing everything he can to bring it about, until she accuses him of being too cowardly to live with what's happened. It actually works, because while people have been calling him a murderer and a traitor behind his back for decades, no one has ever called him a coward before — and he's not about to let them start now.
  • The Sword of Saint Ferdinand: Subverted. Since they have been prohibited from fighting each other directly, García Vargas challenges his enemy Pedro de Guzmán to engage together a seven-man squad riding out of a besieged city. Guzmán is reluctant to fight at a numerical inferiority, but he agrees angrily when García declares he will tell everybody Guzmán is a coward. However, when the pair ride out to meet the enemy patrol, Guzmán lets García's horse get ahead and then turns around, hoping that he will get killed off.
  • In the Warrior Cats novella Redtail's Debt, part of the reason Redtail decided to attack Sorrelpaw on Tigerclaw's orders was because Tigerclaw asked if he was still a mouse-hearted apprentice. Redtail later feels bad for the attack and knows that it was wrong.

    Live-Action TV 
  • The Amanda Show had a recurring sketch where a brother and sister would do any dare anybody gave them, no matter how gross or embarrassing, once someone called them chicken, scared, etc.
  • Mr. Meaty had an episode called "Incredible Jerk," where at one point, Parker calls Josh a little chicken and teasingly clucks, to which Josh replies with, "Well at least I'm not a pig, Porker!".
  • In the The Big Bang Theory episode "The Jiminy Conjecture", we have this gem:
    Howard: Tell you what; I'm willing to bet ANYTHING, that's an ordinary field cricket.
    Sheldon: I can't take your money.
    Howard: What's the matter? You chicken?
    Sheldon: I've always found that an inappropriate slur. Chickens are not, by nature, at all timid. In fact, when I was young, my neighbor's chicken got loose and chased me up the big elm tree in front of our house.
    Raj: Chickens can't climb trees.
    Sheldon: Thank God.
    Howard: Okay. (holds hands up in surrender) I believe a chicken made you his bitch.
  • Doctor Who: In "The Greatest Show in the Galaxy", a spambot arrives in the TARDIS advertising the Psychic Circus. Ace refuses to visit, until it suddenly asks her if she's scared to go.
  • Brooklyn Nine-Nine features Amy Santiago. In her first appearance, she dumps half a bottle of hot sauce on her hot dog after being told it was hot. In a later event, despite the fact that she took a blanket to a baseball game in July, she also agrees to compete in a polar bear challenge after someone mentions that she would never do it. Neither event ends well for her.
  • Done subtly in Gotham when, after Theo Galavan has his mother killed in front of him and then orders a minion to get rid of him, Penguin dares him to do the deed himself, accusing him of coming from a long line of cowards. Without changing his expression or even betraying that this trope so motivated him, Galavan obliges him... only for Penguin to turn the tables on him and escape to reveal the murderer's true colors to Gordon.
  • The Haunted Hathaways: In "Haunted Kids", Louie tries to convince Miles to do another competition with him despite Michelle's orders. Miles is at first hesitant, but Louie then calls him chicken and starts making chicken noises. Miles holds his ground until Louie says "clucky-cluck".
Miles: Did you just "clucky-cluck" me?
  • LazyTown: In "Defeeted", after Pixel calls Robbie out for being afraid to try on the boots, he is immediately offended and puts on the Feet Crazer Maker 6000 just to prove that he isn't, which leads to his plan backfiring tremendously.
  • A dark examples of comes from The Wire in the form of Marlo Stanfield. Marlo is an ice cold, almost emotionless criminal kingpin who clearly has zero morals and no regard for the lives of anyone. The one exception to his inhuman coldness is any threat to his street reputation; a rumor that you spoke ill about him can get you and your entire family brutally murdered, and when Omar attempts to take on Marlo's empire, Omar publicly challenges and disrespects Marlo in an attempt to get Marlo to make a rash action that Omar can take advantage of. Marlo's faction know this about their boss as well as anybody, so his inner circle makes sure that Omar's challenge never gets back to Marlo. When Marlo finally learns about this after Omar is dead, he is absolutely volcanic with fury about his name and street reputation being undermined by the fact that Omar was able to taunt and challenge him while it appeared to the street like Marlo did nothing in response.

  • In Williams Electronics' No Good Gofers, the "Pop-A-Gofer" mode has the game's two rodents taunt the player while the "Chicken Dance" music plays. The player can try to repeatedly hit them for one million points each.
    Buzz: "Chicken!"
    Bud: "Yea, Cluck cluck!"
  • In Tee'd Off, choosing a 10 million bonus (instead of "Double or Nothing") in the Skins Game will prompt Gunther the Gopher to call you a "chicken."
  • The Shadow sometimes taunts the player with this if the Match Sequence fails:
    Farley: "Coward, chicken, sissy... Come on, play again!"

    Professional Wrestling 
  • This trope is constantly invoked in professional wrestling. No matter how much they have to lose or how unfavorable the stipulations, all wrestlers will accept any ridiculous challenge if their opponent attempts to brand them a coward. Faces will generally concede instantly if somebody calls them a chicken whilst heel wrestlers may need to have the same challenge put to them for three weeks in a row, but it never fails.

  • William Shakespeare's Macbeth is suddenly having second thoughts halfway through his plot to kill King Duncan, who after all is a nice old man who's done Macbeth great honour. Lady Macbeth is having none of it and gives him a speech which essentially amounts to "What's the matter, Macbeth? You chicken?".
  • Played with in West Side Story, where repeatedly calling Tony "chicken" is how Bernardo goads Riff into striking the first blow in the rumble which ends with Bernardo killing Riff and Tony killing Bernardo.
  • In Fangirls, Edna is able to bully Jules into blackmailing her mother into buying extra tickets for the True Connection concert with a manipulative spiel that ends with the question "Or are you chicken?"

    Video Games 
  • World of Warcraft gives players the ability to make their characters emote in front of other players and NPCs. The most notable emote for this trope is aptly named "/chicken." The most notable race to use this trope effectively is the male goblin.
    • "Hey, we've got a chicken over here! Buk buk buk buuuuuk!!!!"
  • In Super Paper Mario, the usually cowardly Luigi is angered by Dimentio's statement that "the shag upon his lip will make a fine trophy", to which he responds "SHAG? This moustache is all LUIGI!". Battle ensues, and Luigi wins. Unfortunately, it turned out to be a Batman Gambit for Dimentio to implant him with a floro sprout so he could then effectively gain the Chaos Heart.
  • When you meet Anne in Metal Max Returns:
    Anne: Listen up you cowards! This kid here said that you looked dumber than a bucket of hammers! But I think he was being way too easy on you! I told him, the last time I saw this many sacks of shit, I was in a fertilizer factory!
    Soldier A: What the hell did you say? You fuckers want your faces rearranged?
    Anne: Hey, you're starting to catch on! A bunch of losers like you ought to be ashamed to call yourselves soldiers! Come on, let's get it on! I'm going to mop the floor with you and throw you out on your asses!
    Soldier B: You bastards! You're going to regret that!
  • In the Team Fortress 2 comic, WAR!, the Soldier agrees to declare war on the Demoman because he called him a "civilian."

    Visual Novels 
  • Galaxy Angel: In Ranpha's route in Moonlit Lovers, this is how she convinces Noah to help them, by challenging her to play any game and suggesting she's afraid of losing.
  • The protagonist of Melody has a trick up his sleeve to get the title character to take a picture of herself wearing a dress, and then sending it to Amy: teasing her that she’s too scared to do it.

    Web Animation 
  • AstroLOLogy: In "Curls & Hurls", Virgo only decides to ride a rollercoaster with Aries when he makes chicken noises around her.

  • In Exiern any insult to Tiffany's pride requires retribution...whether it is a sword fight or holding a dressmaker at sword point until she makes Tiffany prettier and more feminine than the Alpha Bitch. For the record, Tiffany used to be a male barbarian.
  • Rumy of Fans! challenges the General to one-on-one combat. The General is savvy enough to say "No" and order her Mooks to open fire instead, but after Rumy rips into her divine image with accusations of cowardice, she gives in rather than cause her side to doubt her.
  • In Here There Be Monsters Lucas managed to goad Victor into giving away all but one of his silver bullets before leaving to hunt a werewolf, bragging "I only need one silver bullet to do the job, unlike you wasteful slobs." That worked out for Victor about as well as can be expected.
  • A funning gag in Housepets! is the appearance of a random chicken, called "what chicken" in the cast listing, that appears during or after chicken puns, which includes usages of this trope.
  • In Oglaf, this is how a peasant gets a Barbarian Hero to plant his potatoes for him.
    The Mighty Finn: Oaf! I choose not to plant them!
    Peasant: I know. I know that, Mighty Finn, it's just that... well... people will talk, won't they?

    Web Original 
  • Danganronpa Abridged Thing: Apparently, Leon Kuwata doesn't take too kindly to being called a weenie by Maizono.
    *Flashback to Maizono in Naegi's bathroom*
    Maizono: Get away from me you big weenie! Weenie!
    *Back in the courtoom*
  • Ashley from The Crazy Kids Of Grade 5 will either hurt or scream at anyone who insults her, and she isn't afraid to fight people.
  • According to Yu-Gi-Oh! The Abridged Series, Gozaburo Kaiba took on Seto in chess because Seto threatened Gozaburo with this.
    Seto: What if I said "bawk-bawk" and made arm movements comparing you to a chicken!?
    Gozaburo: Oh! Anything but that!

    Western Animation 
  • The Adventure Time episode "Memories Of Boom Boom Mountain" has a shout-out to the Back to the Future example above, where the Marauder leader calls Finn "chicken" (with the added bonus of the former being voiced by Thomas F. Wilson himself).
  • Avatar: The Last Airbender, "The Blind Bandit"
    Toph: Sounds to me like you're scared, Boulder!
    The Boulder: The Boulder is over his conflicted feelings, and is now ready to bury you in a Rockalanche!
    Toph: Whenever you're ready, the Pebble!
  • Codename: Kids Next Door:
    • In "Operation: L.I.C.O.R.I.C.E.", a huge insult to any candy pirate is calling them "sugar-free".
  • Ed, Edd n Eddy manages to invert this trope. When Eddy taunts farm boy Rolf by calling him a chicken, Rolf is furious at the insult to chickens and takes Eddy up on his challenge.
  • El Tigre: The Adventures of Manny Rivera: In "The Grave Escape", all the dead Riveras and Manny are in a saloon brawl, and three guys walk up.
    Guy: Hey, I know why the Riveras are always fighting each other. They're all cowards, who are afraid to fight anyone else.
    Riveras (in unison): COWARDS?! *furious dust-cloud of ass-kicking*
  • The Fairly OddParents!: Anti-Cosmo and Head Pixie once goaded Timmy into accepting a bet by impersonating chickens.
  • Family Guy does this in "Mr. Saturday Knight"
    Black Knight: You see kids your father is nothing but a FIZZLE!
    Peter: Nobody calls me a fizzle and gets away with it! Except that one guy who called me a fizzle and then ran off. He got away with it. But most people who call me a fizzle don't get away with it. Well, actually, that guy who got away with it was the only one who ever called me a fizzle. After today... only half the people who ever called me a fizzle will have gotten away with it!
    • Happens again with the actual word in "Petey IV where Vladimir Putin ridicules Peter by saying he's a chicken. Since Peter's Sitcom Archnemesis is a chicken, he takes great offense to this.
  • The Grim Adventures of Billy & Mandy:
    • In "Billy and the Bully", Mandy does this when confronting Sperg. He ultimately winds up running off in tears because he's afraid of her.
      Mandy: Hey, Sperg! I got a bone to pick with you.
      Sperg: Well, well, well. If it isn't the Wussy Squad, with a new member; Sally Teacup!
      Mandy: Why don't you say that a little closer? Unless of course you're chicken.
      Sperg: Are you callin' me chicken?!
      Mandy: Yeah! And I eat chickens for breakfast!
      Sperg: (raises his fists) I'll make you regret that.
      Mandy: Bring it on!
    • Parodied in "Bully Boogie". Grim accuses Boogey of being scared to face him, but never outright says the word "chicken" due to a large poultry being in the room at the time.
      Grim: What's wrong, Boogey? Are ya… scared like some sort of small, tasty bird?
      Boogey: Me? Scared?! I am the essence of Scary itself! Everybody fears The Boogeyman!
      Grim: Only until they're like, eleven. Then they're mine!
  • In the Johnny Bravo episode "Beach Blanket Bravo", a boy gets jealous when his girlfriend latches onto Johnny, so he angrily challenges Johnny to a surfing contest. Johnny refuses, not wanting to get his hair wet, but the boy calls him chicken. In response, Johnny goes, "That does it, kid! You've earned yourself a serious butt whooping!" and accepts the challenge.
  • A classic exchange between Yosemite Sam and Bugs Bunny in Looney Tunes:
    Yosemite Sam: Now you ornery, no-good, long eared, varmint...
    Bugs Bunny: Just a minute, doc. Them's fightin' words.
    Yosemite Sam: Yeah, them's fightin' words!
    Bugs Bunny (draws a line across the ground): I dare you to step across this line.
    Yosemite Sam: I'm a-steppin'.
    ''(some variations involve multiple "lines", but they always result in Sam falling of a cliff/diving board/what have you)
    • A Foghorn Leghorn cartoon had Henery Hawk being told by Barnyard Dawg that he's not a chicken but Foggy is. Foggy goes face to face with Barnyard Dawg and tells him "Don't call me a chicken!"
  • From the Mr. Bogus episode "Bogus To The Rescue":
    Brattus: [in a sing-song tone] Bogus is a chicken! Bogus is a chicken!
    Bogus: [Angry muttering]
    [Every inanimate object in the bathroom starts laughing at Bogus.]
    Bogus: Oh yeah?!? Bogus not chicken! Bogus not- [Promptly turns into a chicken and starts clucking like one.]
  • In My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic, Apple Bloom is attempting to actually call a chicken, and Scootaloo claims "that is not how you call a chicken!" When Scootaloo refuses to show her the right way to call a chicken...
    Apple Bloom: You're just CHICKEN!
    Scootaloo: Am not!
    Apple Bloom: Oh wait, now I know how to call a chicken. SCOOTALOOOO! SCOOT-SCOOTALOOOOOOO!
    Scootaloo: That was so funny, I forgot to laugh!
    Apple Bloom: You also forgot how to call a chicken.
    • Scootaloo actually being (or at least literally treated like) a chicken quickly became a common recurring joke in the fandom.
    • In "The Super Speedy Cider Squeezy 6000", it's shown that Granny Smith hates being called a chicken.
      Granny Smith: What did you just call me, sonny?
    • And in "Pinkie Pride", guest star Cheese Sandwich takes offense to being called "boneless".
      Cheese Sandwich: Nopony calls me boneless! (turns to his rubber chicken) Right, Boneless?
  • In the Popeye cartoon, "Females is Fickle", Olive buys a goldfish, but is distraught when it jumps into the sea. She begs Popeye to go and save him, but he refuses (the fish was rude to him prior). A sobbing Olive calls him a coward, which is enough motive for Popeye to jump in after it.
  • The Powerpuff Girls (1998): In the nightmare episode, Blossom gets Buttercup to face her fear by teasing her about being afraid.
  • The Rupert episode "Rupert and the Temple Ruins" has Rupert Bear motivate Edward Trunk into joining him in the Professor's balloon ride by calling him "chicken". Rupert gives an Aside Glance and remarks to the audience that calling Edward "chicken" always works in getting him to have fun.
  • Homer Simpson from The Simpsons.
    Homer/Clyde: Chicken? Nobody calls me chicken without goading me into doing something stupid!
  • In one occasion where the Stunt Dawgs were contract bound to perform stunts for one of Fungus' movies, he tried to use this trope to make them wear blindfolds during the performance. They said that the contract didn't require them to accept that request and they asked 60 million dollars in exchange for doing it. Fungus made a counter-proposition (half the gross profits) and they accepted it.
  • Tom's cousin in the Tom and Jerry cartoon, "Timid Tabby", subverts this by saying "I can't help it if I'm chicken," when scared by Jerry.
  • The Transformers: This is how Starscream tricks Megatron into walking alone into a trap in the episode "Triple Takeover".
    Megatron: We'll need reinforcements.
    Starscream: Reinforcements? This our mission, Megatron, we don't need to share the glory! Unless...unless Megatron is afraid!
    Megatron (after shoving Starscream): Megatron knows no fear!
  • Turtles Forever: "Shredder! Do you fear us?!"
  • Ultimate Spider-Man (2012): In the episode "Run Pig Run," Spider-Man, after being transformed into a pig by Loki and made the target of an Asgardian boar hunt, is hiding in S.H.I.E.L.D.'s helicarrier while his friends and allies. Loki proceeds to taunt him, stating that since Spidey is letting everyone else fight his battles for him, perhaps a chicken was a more appropriate form for him than a pig. Spidey is livid and immediately jumps into the fray.


Lucas Lee's Grind Speed

Scott challenges Lucas Lee to perform a grind down some stairs, causing him to go fast enough without being able to stop.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (8 votes)

Example of:

Main / TooFastToStop

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