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Revenge via Storytelling

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"I don't like these stories with morals."

"Enough! Here is the truest tale of all! There was an all mighty, all powerful wizard, and there was a pathetic little samurai. And the wizard destroyed him! THE END!"
Aku telling his last story to children, Samurai Jack
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Sometimes characters just really hate each other. Whether it's because of a long-term rivalry, a bitter breakup, or just a falling out, they're at each other's throats. So, when one of these characters is given the opportunity to tell a story, they'll often use this chance to get their fictional revenge, inserting their enemy into the story and then doing bad things to them.

Often, this starts at the portrayal itself. The character is often written to be as unlikable and pathetic as possible, with their flaws exaggerated or falsified. Then, once the plot progresses, something will happen - if they aren't killed off, they're humiliated in some other way.

This is almost never subtle. It's usually a very thinly-veiled attempt to hurt someone else, without regards for actual proper writing and character-design. In some cases the story is entirely designed around this concept, making it as obvious and spite-driven as can be, even if there's technically more plot than just "my rival gets eaten by a bear". The reaction of the humiliated character will also be a big factor, as they usually catch on and protest their portrayal - especially if they're written as a awful parody of themselves. Sometimes, they may not even be aware that there's an issue until they find the story, and occasionally they retaliate with a story of their own. It doesn't necessarily need to be a written story, either; a common variant is for this to occur in a drawn comic instead.

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This is usually Played for Laughs; the characterization will be cartoonish and the vengeance taken to comedic extremes, often with the character getting horrifically killed off or treated like an outright villain. However, serious examples do exist, and usually paint the storyteller in a more negative light- if not as an outright bully, as someone taking things too far. If the story is shared publicly, such as on a stage, it's more likely for them to be seen as the antagonist rather than the person they're writing about. Private stories usually get a pass for being personal wish fulfillment and Power Fantasy, lending themselves to a more comedic take.

Sister trope to Her Codename Was Mary Sue, and can appear alongside it. Compare "Rashomon"-Style, which usually involves characters casting others in a negative light in their own version of events. It can also overlap with Propaganda Piece, as those are often written with the intent to make someone look bad.

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In-Universe Examples Only, please! This is about fictional characters having fictional beef, not real people venting through fiction. This is still Truth in Television though; Real Life fanfic examples belong on Revenge Fic or Ron the Death Eater. Similarly, the Roman à Clef novel is often used by imaginatively vindictive authors to "get even" with people they have a beef against, by writing them in as unappealing or unflatteringly described characters.

Examples:

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    Comic Books 
  • In an issue of Squirrel Girl, Squirrel Girl and her friends make comics. However, Kraven creates a story insulting Spider-Man and praising himself, prompting Spider-Man to title his story ''Hey Kraven Squirrel Girl Showed Me Your Comic, So What The Heck".

    Comic Strips 
  • Calvin and Hobbes:
    • In one strip, Calvin writes an illustrated poem about a kid named "Barney" who locked his father in the basement after his father made him eat his peas; Calvin's father is not pleased with the depiction. In a different comic, the dad would tell Calvin a story about a boy who got locked in the basement for not going to bed on time.
    • Another had Calvin once again asking his dad to read his favorite story: "Hamster Huey and the Gooey Kablooie", Calvin's dad refused because he read the story many times and told Calvin he knows how it ends. Calvin cries until his dad gives in, however he improvises the story with a dark ending that keeps Calvin and Hobbes awake all night.
      Calvin: Wow, the story was different that time.
      Hobbes: Do you think the townsfolk will ever find Hamster Huey's head?
    • In yet another strip, Calvin tries to extort his father by threatening to make him the subject of a strip called "Dopey Dad." He gets sent to his room, but he draws it anyway.
  • Foxtrot: One arc has Paige write herself as a Princess Classic encountering a tiny troll that looks like her brother Jason, which she leaves to get eaten by boars. Jason's complaint isn't that she cast him as the villain but that the work sucks overall.

    Fanfic 
  • Zigzagged in The Loud House fanfiction The Sad Little Girl. Lucy writes a story about a girl named Abigail who seems like a self-insert, but it could just be because Lucy likes that kind of character due to her personality. Abigail in the story gets bullied by three girls, then she finds a spell book and gets revenge on them in gruesome ways: she turns the first one's blood into molasses, the second one's intestines into snakes, and the third one's bones into glass. Lisa finds the story, reads it, and suspects that Lucy may be being bullied in real life and writing the story as catharsis, but it's left up in the air as to whether that's the case.
  • In Infinity Train: Blossoming Trail, Chloe writes a story about a boy who is chasing after a wish-granting creature who can morph into different items who ends up (accidentally) killing his best friend and then cursed to forever chase after the creature. It's a parallel to her feelings about her Childhood Friend Goh leaving her behind to chase after Mew and signals the start of how she never wants to see or hear from him again.

    Film — Live-Action 
  • A variant occurs In After The Dark. Professor Eric Zimit makes his whole class run through several social experiments, in which they pretend to be people stranded in a very dire situation (survivors in a bunker while nuclear war happens outside, for example) and they must choose who to cull to live longer. As he constantly derails the simulations to make the students' characters suffer brutal and humiliating deaths from consequences they didn't thought about, it becomes increasingly apparent to Petra (Zimit's top student, and former girlfriend) that Zimit is only making them roleplay to get even by constantly killing the characters played by Petra's new boyfriend James.
  • In A Knight's Tale, a humiliated Chaucer threatens to eviscerate his two creditors in fiction.
  • In Labyrinth, Sarah is irritated about once again babysitting her little half-brother Toby, and can't get him to stop crying. So she starts telling him a story to try to calm him down - about a beautiful teenage girl whose Wicked Stepmother treated her like a slave and always made her take care of the awful selfish baby. This, of course, results in Sarah accidentally invoking the magic phrase which leads to the goblins abducting Toby.

    Literature 
  • Played With in Bimbos of the Death Sun, regarding getting revenge on a fictional character. A famous writer is found murdered and the heroes, in passing, eventually discover that the writer was completely and utterly fed up with his greatest character, an Expy of Conan the Barbarian, but he kept making the books because it made him rich and famous. to the point that in order to vent his hatred, he always added a (non-canon) epilogue to his stories in which the character died an incredibly brutal and humiliating death and that would be the end of the series, forevermore, which his editor always made sure to remove before going to print. This ends up becoming more important than the heroes expected it to be when it turns out that the killer is a Loony Fan of the character, who snuck into the writer's hotel room, found the unedited finished manuscript of the series' latest book, and decided to "protect" the character when he read the epilogue.
  • Captain Underpants: In Captain Underpants and the Big, Bad Battle of the Bionic Booger Boy - Part 1: The Night of the Nasty Nostril Nuggets, George and Harold get fed-up with Melvin's constant tattling. So they create a Captain Underpants comic featuring Melvin as the villain: a tattletale kid who becomes the mayor and jails everyone for incredibly minor violations. After the jails get full, Melvin creates a hybrid giant robot suit/prison and imprisons people. Captain Underpants saves the day and defeats Melvin, sending him to his own jail while freeing the others. Melvin himself gets angry after reading the comic and swears to get revenge on them both.
  • In a Dirty Bertie book, Angela writes a story about marrying Bertie, on whom she has a Puppy Love crush. Bertie, who doesn't like Angela, angrily rewrites the story to have her marry his Nerdy Bully rival Nick instead. He adds in a jab at Nick by having him fall into a cowpat at the end.
  • Judge Dee: In "The Willow Pattern", Ma Joong is told to look through a crack in a wall by a puppeteer named Yuan and sees a naked and bound woman being whipped to death by a man. Furiously, he tries to go for help, but then Yuan shows him it was just done with cutouts. We later learn that this was based on Yuan's own life story (his wife was abducted, raped and whipped to death by a degenerate aristocrat) and this was the only form of revenge he had. The murder is avenged by the end, but the judge tells him off for poisoning his and his daughters' lives by endlessly retelling the story.
  • Sherlock Holmes: In "The Three Gables", a Mrs. Maberley is being harassed into leaving her home and everything in it. Holmes figures out they're actually after her recently-deceased son's luggage, which contains a manuscript in which an innocent young man is entrapped by a cruel woman. Obviously the story is the author's own with the names changed (Holmes notes that at the climax, the narrator switches to "my" rather than "his"), which he wrote as revenge for getting dumped by Rich Bitch Isadora Klein. Holmes agrees not to press charges against her or cause a scandal (Klein is about to get married to a nobleman almost two decades younger), but in exchange for a large sum which he gives to Mrs. Maberley so she can travel around the world.
  • The Silkworm: Quine promised that he would write a novel in celebration of his loved ones, such as his mistress Katherine and their surrogate daughter Pippa. However, the novel itself is a violent revenge fantasy, lashing out at all his co-workers, his wife Leonora, and his onetime friend Michael Fancourt. His editor Liz is depicted as a violent rapist, for instance, and the others are subterranean monsters. But double subverted. That isn't Quine's book, which depicts Katherine and Pippa positively. Liz wrote a parody of it and hid the real book before killing Quine in revenge for blackmailing her. So the story is a double revenge: against Quine himself and against other literary figures.
  • Subverted in Gray Cardinal's The Tale of Marian's Wedding, in which the Sheriff of Nottingham, in the course of arranging his marriage to the Lady Marian, commissions a ballad designed to lure Marian's protector Robin Hood into a trap. Robin and his men naturally spring the trap, but discover that Marian and the Sheriff are genuinely in love, while the Sheriff in turn learns that Robin and Marian are not lovers at all, but rather half-siblings. Alan-a-Dale, who has foreseen both twists, rewrites the ballad to allow for a (secret) happy ending.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Black Mirror: In Black Mirror: USS Callister, This is part of Robert Daly's revenge on his co-workers. He uses their DNA to create online avatars of them that he tortures, but he also forces them to act out mini-plots that involve them, especially his hated CEO, being made to look like fools and/or enemies that repeatedly praise him.
  • Community:
    • One episode had the study group telling horror stories to each other. Many of the stories had jabs directed towards other members of the group. Britta's story portrays Jeff as a Bastard Boyfriend. Annie's story outright calls Britta (her romantic rival) a slut. Pierce believes Troy's story about a Mad Scientist who kidnaps two fighter pilots is about him. In response, he tells a story where heavily stereotyped versions of Troy and Abed try to rob him and get handily defeated. Shirley's story has the rest of the gang getting left behind during the end of days in retaliation for them making fun of her Christian beliefs.
    • In the stinger of the episode "Paradigms of Human Memory", the Dean has written a comic story where, after the group makes fun of his costumes (again), he kills each member in a graphic and unpleasant way.
  • House of Anubis: Played for Drama. As a result of being cheated on, Mara makes it a personal goal of hers to ruin Jerome's life. She writes a school play designed around humiliating him. His character is portrayed as a huge, manipulative loser with no redeeming qualities, and he gets his heart broken at the end- with the ultimate plan being having Joy dump him on stage in front of everyone. Jerome realizes the character is based on him and takes it in stride, but is crushed when he learns about the full plan and breaks up with Joy before she can break up with him.
  • In How I Met Your Mother, Tony holds major resentment over main character Ted Mosby for dating Tony's baby mama Stella. This is extreme enough that Tony eventually creates a fictionalized version of their Love Triangle as an in-universe Romantic Comedy where the Romantic False Lead is a Jerkass named Jed Mosley.
  • Modern Family: Played with when Manny writes a play based off of his family life and asks Gloria, Claire, Hayley, and Alex to act it out. Each of them plays an exaggerated version of themselves. Claire's character is a bitter, cold alcoholic; Alex is a bookish spinster; and Hayley's character is so stupid she picks a fight with a parrot (apparently something that really happened). The women take offense to Manny's characterizations of them and believe he was trying this. However, Manny insists that isn't the case and claims the characters are amalgamations of real women he knew.
  • My Name Is Earl: One episode had the main characters getting into creative writing. Catalina's story portrays Joy (her rival in real life) as trying and failing to sabotage Catalina's romance with a wealthy man.
  • The Suite Life on Deck: Once Cody and Bailey have their messy breakup in Paris, both are left crushed and angry. Cody assumes Bailey was cheating on him with a mime, while he struggled to prepare an anniversary dinner. So, to get payback, he wrote a play based on the breakup and wrote Bailey's character as a cruel, unfaithful idiot who ultimately falls off the Eiffel Tower and dies. Bailey sees the scene and runs off in tears, surprised that Cody hated her that much.

    Video Games 
  • Dragon Age II: Invoked by the Flavor Text of Varric's special ability "Unauthorized Biographer", which is unlocked by maxing out his Rivalry score. Varric is the Character Narrator of the whole game, so if you do that, the world will primarily learn about Hawke from someone whom you've gone out of your way to antagonizenote .
    One of these days, Varric will tell your story. Whether you like it or not.

    Web Animation 
  • Homestar Runner: In the Halloween toon "Doomy Tales of the Macabre", Strong Sad writes a story about each of the main cast suffering a horrible fate (except Coach Z because his life is already a horrible fate). At the beginning of the toon, he admits that he's doing this out of spite toward them for not inviting him to their Halloween party.

     Western Animation 
  • Arthur: In "Draw!", Francine insults Fern, who retaliates by drawing a comic of Francine as an arrogant cow named Frank. The other students, who were also sick of Francine's teasing and arrogance, also draw mean comics of Francine. Arthur's one has her, as a Blob Monster, get Eaten Alive by a hungry boy who he clearly based off Buster.
  • Played for Laughs in the Halloween Episode of Dream Works Shrek Swamp Stories. During his round of the scary story, Donkey immediately kills Puss off, as part of their longstanding rivalry. Puss protests his death, arguing that he wouldn't die in the way Donkey claimed. The segment proceeds like that, with Donkey trying to kill Puss and Puss changing the story. At the end, it's Donkey who gets killed off.
  • Family Guy: In one episode, Brian finds out Stewie wrote a book where he is portrayed as an idiot. He gets angry and by the end of the episode writes his own book where Stewie is the idiot.
  • Regular Show: In "Terror Tales of the Park II", the gang once again tell scary stories while driving to a Halloween party. A mishap after the second story causes their van to crash and have to get a lift by the tow truck driver. Angered at Mordecai and Rigby for unintentionally cause the situation, Benson tells the third story and make the duo come off as bumbling idiots who end up getting themselves killed trying to stop the spider monster of the story. Offended, Rigby tries to tell his own story but causes a scuffle that once more cause their car to crash and end up killing them. Luckily it's Negative Continuity, so it doesn't stick.
  • Samurai Jack: After witnessing children praise Jack and shunning him, Aku attempts to gain their praise by telling them fairy tales portraying him as a hero. When they ask for stories about Jack, he responds by telling them tales that portray Jack as the villain. However, none of the fairy tales he uses please the kids. He soon gets fed up and tells a rushed tale to them about him killing Jack before leaving.
  • South Park: During the climax of "Woodland Critter Christmas," the plot is revealed to be a story Cartman is telling. This explains why the story's version of Kyle, who has a long-established beef with Cartman, willingly absorbs the Antichrist into his body in order to take over the world for the Jews. Kyle calls Cartman out on just using the story to once again mock Kyle for being Jewish. Everybody at the end of the story is allowed a happy ending except for Kyle, who dies of AIDS.
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