Bugs are small. Bugs can be annoying. And bugs are easily squishable, given the right tools. So what better way is there to insult an opponent you don't want to be bothered with anymore? By comparing him/her/it to a bug (or worm, or maggot, or something else that crawls along the ground and can easily be stepped on), of course.
This is a favored technique among very powerful and/or very arrogant villains to intimidate their opponent or devalue their abilities before their climactic battle. More savvy heroes tend to shrug this off as lame posturing, but a bad guy will still throw this in from time to time, if only to make himself sound cool. This can be hammy, especially if you stop to think of what that would actually look like if it were a normal human saying it to an actual bug.
See also the Drill Sergeant Nasty, who uses this as a "motivational" tool ("You call that an insult, maggot?!"), If a character thinks of everyone this way, that's Humans Are Insects. Also compare Your Little Dismissive Diminutive.
- Dragon Ball Z: Cementing his status as the Big Bad of the story arc, Frieza often delivers insults like this to his foes. His theme song in Kai also has lyrics to this effect, describing his subjects as worms and insects before him.
Did you really think that three little ants could defeat a dinosaur?
- Dragon Ball Super: Zamasu, the Future one, outright describes the mortals as "insignificant worms" at one point. Which is all the more jarring for him when he's nearly trapped by the Evil Containment Wave, forcing him to acknowledge that Goku and co. do pose a threat to his and Goku Black's plans.
- In Hellsing, Zorin Blitz talks about swatting Pip Bernadotte "like a fly", which makes Seras angry enough to take a level in badass.
- JoJo's Bizarre Adventure: Dio Brando does this a lot. For example, when standing on a floating rock about to fight the man in the funny hat.
- In Bleach, The Espada Barragan Luisenbarn is fond of this, repeatedly calling his enemies ants and insects even when he's not the one fighting them.
- Double meaning in C'mon Digimon, where Bun is both a weak monster (bug as in small and easily squished) but is also believed to be the result of an error in the v-pet(bug as in glitch). Similarly, in Digimon V-Tamer 01, Neo Saiba does compare opponents to bugs (small, easily squished) but considers Taichi and Zeromaru to be bugs in that they aren't squished when they are supposed to be (errors in the system).
- The double meaning continues in Our War Game, where Kuramon is compared to a bug, in that Digimon are not supposed to directly appear on the internet, and a bug in that Taichi and Yamato's monsters are criticized for not easily squashing it like they should have.
- Children under the influence of the Dark Spore in Digimon Adventure 02 get an attitude of superiority to normal humans, and often compare anyone who's not them to "insects".
- Father in Fullmetal Alchemist once said humans are so insect-like compared to him that they don't even deserve his contempt as his homunculus give.
- In the Black Swordsman arc of Berserk, which begins the story In Medias Res, Griffith/Femto makes his Big Bad debut by "greeting" Guts with, "Still squirming around in your pitiful existence, I see." taking note that he is practically a god at this point and Guts is a mere mortal. Guts "calmly" reminds him that if it hadn't been for the bullshit that Guts went through for his goals, Griffith/Femto would not have been in the position that he is in now.
- The corrupt eunuchs' in Code Geass call the people of China ants in their Motive Rant to Zero when they think they have him cornered. Too bad for them, this is all part of an Engineered Public Confession.
- In Fairy Tail, the dark guild Eisenwald refers to the members of the titular guild as "flies". They don't really make notice of it, except for Natsu who brilliantly gives the taunting Kageyama his comeuppance by punching him and naming the attack "Fly Punch".
- The Dreaded Black Wizard Zeref believes that the even more dreaded Black Dragon of the Apocalypse Acnologia chooses not to speak to humans (despite technically still being one himself) because he sees them are mere vermin.
- In A Certain Magical Index, Teitoku Kakine calls Accelerator a worm at one point before trying to kill him.
- In Negima! Magister Negi Magi, Fate boasts at one point, "You are as an ant before an elephant."
- In Fate/Zero, Gilgamesh calls one of the Assassins a worm after slicing his head open with one of his flying swords.
- Sword Art Online: Throughout the Fairy Dance arc, Sugou Nobuyuki/Oberon sees himself as the god of ALfheim Online, and thinks so little of Kirito that he calls him, among other things, a "cockroach," a "piece of trash", and "scum."
- Narberal Gamma in Overlord, who hates humans and sees them as inferior to heretomorphic races, constantly insults humans by referring to them as various types of insects and other lowly creatures. She gets pretty creative in terms of the range of species she covers with these insults - at one point she even calls an enemy a planarian. She does not tone the attitude down at all when she interacts with humans while posing as one herself, either. Fortunately, most people simply assume that she is a haughty and arrogant Ice Queen, remaining blissfully unaware that if it weren't for Momon's orders, she would not hesitate a second before slaughtering everyone in the room.
- Rurouni Kenshin: Jin-e tends to call weak fighters and non fighters bugs.
- In Yu-Gi-Oh! The Movie: Pyramid of Light, Anubis has this to say to Kaiba, whom he's been possessing until he's finally strong enough to emerge in his own body.
Anubis: You have served me well, little worm, but You Have Outlived Your Usefulness! (tosses Kaiba aside)
Dr. Manhattan: The world's smartest man is no more a threat to me than the world's smartest termite.
- Epic example from 52. Mr. Mind, who appears in most stories as a tiny, telepathic caterpillar who needs the help of other villains to fight his enemies, has become the Hyperfly. Now the size of a planet, he chases down Booster Gold and Rip Hunter...
I have you now. You insects.
- In one issue of Arkham Unhinged, Bane has broken into the church where Cash, the medical staff and political prisoners are holed up. Cash confronts, and Bane says that he is an insect to him. Cash's pure badass response
Good! Then feel my sting! *SLASH!*
- Due to his motif, Spider-Man's enemies often do this. Of course, if anyone is so foolish as to refer to him as an "insect", he'll be quick to remind them that he's actually an arachnid.
- The first issue of Incredible Hulk had the Hulk swat aside Rick Jones while exclaiming "Get out of my way, insect!"
- At the end of G.I. Joe vs. the Transformers: The Art of War, Serpent O.R. refers to Hawk as an insignificant flea during their final confrontation.
- G.I. Joe (2016) had the Decepticon Skywarp frequently refer to the Joes as "insects".
- Abraxas (Hrodvitnon): Ghidorah has called humans, including a brave Bone Singer who communicated with it long ago when it was frozen, "insects". Vivienne, having been reborn as part of Monster X alongside San, is a heroic case: she isn't immune to mentally calling Alan Jonah and/or his men (who caused her and San a lot pain) "insects" when she's sufficiently enraged and is acting.
- In The Bridge, Grand King Ghidorah often calls his opponents things like cockroaches and worms. Megalon points out he actually resembles a giant cockroach.
- In Heart of Ashes, King Wilhelm of Dorwinion tries to assert his authority to Smaug while comparing him to a worm. The dragon-in-human-skin responds with a scathing "The Reason You Suck" Speech in which he turns the worm-comparison around.
King Wilhelm: I am a king, and you are nothing more than a worm beneath my boot!
Smaug: A worm What lovely titles you give both to yourself and to me. But I have seen kings and empires fall in just one day, all gone in a cloud of smoke And just now, as your narrow-minded advisors tell you, self-proclaimed kings are falling day by day, to die in the dirt, and be nothing but food for the crows and the worms.
- Smaug later calls Vathvael's people worthless worms when he attacks the city in the climax.
- A Link Between Worlds: The Novelization: As in the game, Yuga is literally incapable of opening his mouth without comparing everyone around him to worms and insects.
- The Night Unfurls:
- A rare heroic example in the case of Kyril Sutherland. During his second encounter with Shamuhaza, Kyril refers to him, now as an insectoid Eldritch Abomination, as "small and insignificant" in his Badass Boast. This presents a stark contrast to their first encounter, where Kyril sees him as a madman, almost as if he is mocking how Shamuhaza has to resort to becoming something inhuman to fight him. Not that it matters anyway, considering that Kyril himself is a great one, with far more power and experience.
- In regards to Alicia, Maia, and Kaguya, The Rat sees their existence as lower than an insect's.
- In Pony POV Series, Nyarlathotrot tells the heroes that ponies are less than bacteria to him.
- The villain Omagog from this Power Rangers fic is inordinately fond of this insult. Given the setting, he's able to take it a step further.
- Rosario Vampire: Brightest Darkness:
- Hex, Pandora, and Babylon can barely form a sentence without derisively calling humans and monsters "lesser beings."
- The dark Falla likes to refer to humans and other monsters as ants.
- In Act III chapter 41, Kuyou explicitly states that, as far as he's concerned, humans are the equivalent of ants and dirt.
- In Act V chapter 36, during the school attack, Jacqueline outright refers to the humans as "filthy bugs."
- In The Stronger Evil, Shendu calls Tarakudo a worm as part of his Badass Boast when the petrified Demon Sorcerer repels the flying head of an Oni King.
- In Disney's Hercules, Pain and Panic, minions of Hades, use this trope on themselves, to demonstrate their unworthiness compared to their boss.
Pain and Panic: We are worms! Worthless worms!
- A Bug's Life is about ants, so the antagonist Hopper has to go one step further with his insults.
"You piece of dirt! No, I'm wrong. You're lower than dirt. You're an ant!"
- The Hunchback of Notre Dame: Early on, Frollo outright compares the Gypsies to ants. For emphasis, while explaining his genocidal intentions to Phoebus, he squishes an ant nest.
- Rotti Largo from Repo! The Genetic Opera:
"Maggots! Vermin! You want the world for nothing!"
- Non-villain example from GoldenEye. Natalya tells off her former partner Boris, who has joined Trevelyan.
Natalya: This is not one of your games, Boris! Real people will die! You pathetic little worm...
- Marvel Cinematic Universe:
Director Fury: We have no quarrel with you.
- Loki in The Avengers (2012).
Loki: An ant has no quarrel with a boot.
- Later, when Loki is thrown into a cell designed to contain the Hulk, Fury informs him he can be ejected into the sky at any time if he misbehaves, then says, "Ant, meet boot."
- In The Rocky Horror Picture Show (also in the stage play), the reprise of "Super Heroes" includes the line:
"And crawling / on the planet's face / some insects / called the human race..."
- Amos, the preacher from Cold Comfort Farm begins his church service this way before beginning his rant about the Fire and Brimstone Hell that awaits them all.
"You...miserable...crawling worms are yer here again then?"
- In All Tomorrows, one of the human colonies conquered by the Qu were forcibly turned into "Worms", which look like somewhere between inchworms and naked mole rats. They eventually evolve into the Snake People who form a civilization.
- A Memoir By Lady Trent: One of the tablets Audrey and Kudshayn translate is called the "Worms Tablet" because it refers to humans as worms compared to the Draconeans who wrote the tablet. The Worms Tablet and two others turn out to be a forgery to stir up anti-Draconean sentiment.
- In Taran Wanderer, Morda attempts to Baleful Polymorph Taran into a worm, considering other animals not lowly enough. (He fails because Taran is unwittingly holding his Soul Jar.)
- Douglas Hill's Master of Fiends has a particularly unpleasant demon call the heroes insects.
Scythe: Some insects bite, crawler. Do you dare to risk my fangs? <brandishes Cool Sword>
- In The Dresden Files, this is fairly stock. So much so, that if the monster of the week doesn't do this, then they're savvy. Like Cowl. Or Kincaid. Notice, they're both probably at least a little bit human.
- Warrior Cats gives us a hilarious example in which a young apprentice makes up a weird dream that goes something like this "I was walking through the forest and ShadowClan cats were EVERYWHERE! And the river was running with blood, THUNDERCLAN BLOOD! I went to tell somebody in the camp but there were no ThunderClan warriors anywhere and a ShadowClan cat is all like 'We can crush ThunderClan, because ThunderClan are no more powerful then a swarm of beetles, and Beetles can be crushed,".
- In Matt Stover's novelization of Revenge of the Sith, Anakin is shown gradually having less and less regard for his wife as a person he loves and respects, more and more seeing her as a possession whose fear and pain, when he provokes them, are sweet. There's a scene where he looks at her and realizes he could crush her like a bug, and almost wants to.
- In the original The Mysterious Benedict Society book, after realizing that the members of titular society are spies, the Big Bad Mr. Curtain refers to them and children in general as gnats that are easy to crush.
- On Angel, Illyria, oh so much. An Old One from when demons ruled the earth, used to being worshiped by millions or billions of beings, she was not especially impressed with the twenty-first century. Insects, vermin, and muck were all ways she described humanity.
- Doctor Who:
- In "The Ultimate Foe", the Valeyard hurls this sort of insult at Glitz: "Insect! Microbe!!"
- In "Empress of Mars", on seeing her first human, Iraxxia the Queen of Mars asks, "What manner of fleshy worm are you?"
- Star Trek: Voyager. Large Ham Dr. Chaotica in the Flash Gordon expy holodeck program "The Adventures of Captain Proton!"
Your pitiful fleet is no match for my spaceforce! We'll crush you like insects!
- Gary Mitchell from the TOS episode "Where No Man Has Gone Before" makes a similar threat as he's being beamed down to Delta Vega.
- Supernatural: The Angels that adhere more openly to Fantastic Racism deride humans as either monkeys or maggots. Zachariah, a higher-tier and particularly smug Angel topped it by describing Dean as "nothing but a maggot inside a worm's ass".
- In Babylon 5, The Vorlons and Shadows take this attitude towards the younger races, humans included. Kosh is our main window on this ("The avalanche has already started. It is too late for the pebbles to vote."), and he's actually way more engaged with us than the rest of his race.
- In Haven, the villainous Mara is several centuries old and sees herself as superior to ordinary humans. She boasts to the heroes, "You're less than insects to me."
- Professor Higgins in Pygmalion:
Eliza: Nothing wrong — with you. I've won your bet for you, haven't I? That's enough for you. I don't matter, I suppose.Higgins: You won my bet! You! Presumptuous insect! I won it.
- Final Fantasy:
- The Emperor from Final Fantasy II (especially as he appears in Dissidia Final Fantasy) loves using this trope.
"Insects may swarm, but they are insects nonetheless."
- This comes back to bite him after his second major defeat - when he disbelievingly asks who the heroes are, Firion mockingly replies: "Just a swarm of insects."
- Kefka from Final Fantasy VI: "Such magnificent power! You are like insects to me!"
- Final Fantasy IX - facing the party for the first time, Beatrix tells Freya and Zidane, "I once killed a hundred knights single-handedly... To me, you two are nothing more than insects."
- The Emperor from Final Fantasy II (especially as he appears in Dissidia Final Fantasy) loves using this trope.
- in Fire Emblem Awakening, this is the Fell Dragon Grima's favorite insult to anyone that opposes him.
- Dr. Batrachian from Shadow Man: "You ant! You piece of excrement! You NOTHING!!"
- SHODAN from System Shock also likes to use "insect" as an insult. Of course, this is one of her nicer threats...
- Albel Nox from Star Ocean: Till the End of Time.
- There's also Luca Blight's rant from Suikoden II:
"You can round up a million maggots to defeat me... but you'll still all just be maggots!"
- Astaroth from SoulCalibur, often calls his opponents "worms" and the like. Apparently, freaky hulking golems are hard to please. Who knew?
Created Villain (Upon Victory): "Did you feel my power, you maggots?!"
- Soul Calibur IV gives us this gem from one of the more evil sounding custom male voices:
- Liquid Snake from Metal Gear Solid, in one of his first lines!
"I'm going to go swat down a couple of bothersome flies."
- The Soldier from Team Fortress 2 often yells about maggots and spineless worms. (See Drill Sergeant Nasty above.)
- One of Adon's win quotes in Super Street Fighter IV.
- Sovereign in Mass Effect.
Rudimentary creatures of blood and flesh.
Organic life is nothing but a genetic mutation, an accident
- O. Dio of Live A Live's Western chapter:
"It doesn't matter how many rats you rustle up... You won't be able to win against a Gatling Gun!!"
- This exchange from Lufia: Curse of the Sinistrals:
Idura: Foolish vermin! Do you dare to defy me? I'LL CRUSH YOU LIKE WORMS!
Tia: (to Maxim and Guy) Hey, are we worms, or are we vermin? Boy, he's really mad now.
- Galactus in Marvel vs. Capcom 3 will sometimes start the Final Boss fight by saying "You are not unlike an ant fighting the sun."
- He also says "Now I must squash you like the bug that you are!" when you beat him. Sure, he is.
- Also, Super Skrull says at the beginning of a fight: "I will crush you like the insect you are."
- Wizpig of Diddy Kong Racing enjoys calling the racers "worms."
- Sigma from Mega Man X 2: "You are merely a bothersome insect, Mega Man X! It is about time that I crush you beneath my heel!"
- Wild Dog in Time Crisis 4 says the following to the VSSE, whose members he had to deal with in the entire series. He hams it up in the sequel with similar insults.
Wild Dog: A bunch of annoying little flies...
- In Time Crisis 2, Ernesto Diaz compares the VSSE to roaches.
- In Brütal Legend, Doviculus calls Lars an insect.
- Used and then subverted in Xenoblade Chronicles, in which Egil apologizes for calling the party "bugs" earlier after they put up a surprisingly strong fight against him. He then proceeds to call them "worms" upon their next encounter.
- Along with "bakufu's dogs," this is one of Kazama Chikage's favorite ways to address the Shinsengumi in Hakuouki.
- In Castlevania: Judgment, Dracula is quite fond of this. Some of his victory quotes have him call his defeated opponents insects.
- In RosenkreuzStilette, in addition to claiming to be a god, Iris Zeppelin never miss an opportunity to call other people "worthless maggots".
- The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds: Yuga can barely finish a sentence without calling everyone around him worms and insects.
- Granga from Star Fox 64 has two variations of this:
Granga: "I will not be defeated by this worm!"
Granga: "You annoying little flies!"
- In Sly Cooper and the Thievius Raccoonus, the first boss hams it up with this little exchange:
Sir Raleigh: Ohhhhhh, I'm ever so sorry. How sloppy of me not to finish the job. Obviously we should have snuffed you out as well. So, without any further ado, let me make amends by, what... BLOATING TO GARGANTUAN SIZE AND SQUASHING YOU LIKE THE INSIGNIFICANT BUG THAT YOU ARE!!!!
- Smithy of Super Mario RPG tells your party, "Come on, you puny ants!" just before the final battle with him.
- Ragnaros the Firelord from World of Warcraft and Hearthstone is fond of saying things like, "Die, insect!" Even in Hearthstone's Whispers of the Old Gods expansion, where world gone completely down the crapper inspired him to undergo a HeelFace Turn and embrace the Light... He still shouts "Live, insect!" at whoever he is healing.
- In Blue's Journey for the Neo Geo, the Daruma Emperor says "You worm!" before attacking you.
- In Ultima: Worlds of Adventure 2: Martian Dreams, many of the martians refer to humans as worms, even non-maliciously. This is revealed to be because they are all plant-based beings, as are the majority of Mars' lifeforms, and the only native animals are a few varieties of worms, all primitive and hostile - "worm" is the only analogue they recognize. Quite a few of the friendlier martians are even delighted and intrigued by the novelty of civilized and advanced "worms".
- In Atelier Sophie: The Alchemist of the Mysterious Book, as you begin the battle with Luard, he declares "I possess the greatest knowledge in the world. Insects like you cannot stop me."
- The Final Boss of EarthBound Beginnings:
"Foolish one, you cannot do a thing with your meager powers... Powers worthy of a lowly insect."
"You puny little Earth bugs!"
- In The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel IV, in the true ending as Rean prepares to purge Ishmelga so the party can fight him, he tells him "PATHETHIC MAGGOT...CEASE YOUR POINTLESS STRUGGLE!!!" Rean is not impressed.
- Batman: The Animated Series: In "Fire From Olympus", when Maxie Zeus sees Batman sneaking through his building's air ducts on his security cameras, he calls him a worm crawling through the dirt.
- Samurai Jack: In the Grand Finale, Aku outright calls Jack's allies "insignificant insects."
- Crops up a lot in various continuities of Transformers. It helps that Decepticons usually don't think too highly of humans for the most part.
- What was Darkseid's reaction when Batman gave him a flying kick with enough force to actually make him stumble a bit in the Grand Finale of Justice League Unlimited. One pithy word before firing the Omega Effect:
- The Super Mario Bros Super Show!: In "Mario Meets Koop-Zilla", King Koopa becomes the size of a skyscraper, and he calls Mario and Luigi insects.