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Schoolyard Bully All Grown Up

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"HELLOOO!!! HELLOOO!!! Anybody home?!?! You thought things would change after 30 years? Think, McFly, think!"

"It's fun to laugh at the nerds. That's how I spent most of my time in high school!"
The Producer, Screen Rant Pitch Meetings, The Big Bang Theory Pitch Meeting

You're The Hero about to face off with the Big Bad. Then the Big Bad removes his mask to reveal... he's that big kid who kept stealing your lunch money when you were in third grade. And now he's all grown up and wants more... apparently, that's what this whole conquering the world thing is about.

The Schoolyard Bully All Grown Up comes along when that character who made your life hell when you were in school grows up into a more formidable adult antagonist. If you were in grade school with him, then he was the Mouthy Kid. If you were in high school with him, then he was probably the Jerk Jock. If he is a "she", then she was the Alpha Bitch. Either way, the character hasn't matured one iota, but can now do a lot worse damage.

An alternate version is someone who wasn't quite a bully but still holds a grudge against you for something you did back in school. ("Remember when you took Cindy to the High-School Dance? That should've been me! Meet my Death Trap!") The Schoolyard Bully All Grown Up will hate your children for absolutely no reason, even if they're nothing like you. Somewhat cruelly, this character seems especially likely to become one of your kid's schoolteachers. If the story is told from the children's perspective, then all this will be a backstory.

Often a result of the fact that Everyone Went to School Together. A previously established villain may be revealed to be one of these when Spinoff Babies are created.

Sometimes, but not always, these types of characters are accompanied by the same people they were friends with, when they were younger. If this is the case, these friends will likely take the role of The Dragon.

And if the hero is an Anti-Hero (or just particularly resentful for what the bully put them through in the past) and is giving the bully-turned-bad guy a serious beating, expect him/her to enjoy the beatdown they're giving and say something like "You have no idea how long I've wanted to do that" or something to that effect.

Sometimes subverted by having the one-time bully growing up into a sensible, responsible adult who holds no ill will towards his schoolyard nemeses, something which sometimes happens in real life. This can also be subverted by having the adult bully becoming a friend to the former victim, even if they haven't necessarily grown up.

For the heroic counterpart, see Kid Hero All Grown-Up. May intersect with But for Me, It Was Tuesday, where the bully doesn't recognise or even remember The Hero. See also Future Loser, where the school bully is now a washout in a degrading job while their victim is doing much better. Not to be confused with the other type of all grown up now. See also Kids Are Cruel.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • 20th Century Boys:
    • The cheerfully sadistic, pro-wrestling-loving bullies Yanbo and Mabo grew up to be charitable, good-natured people with a... somewhat rose-colored view of their 'playing' with the neighborhood kids.
    • Friend fits the Disproportionate Retribution part of the trope. Particularly the second Friend, though he was also the target of bullying.
  • A Case Closed case had one about a man who killed the now grown-up guy who bullied his son into suicide. It is, however, more complicated — the man was a child psychologist by trade and was originally quite willing to not hold any grudge over the said bully. So, when the said ex-bully went to college and happened to live close with the said man, they were originally quite friendly. It was only after noticing this trope has been played straight that he decided to kill the ex-bully.
  • Liar Game: Yokoya, who essentially turned his entire school into his playground, including the authority figures. In the actual series, he is the deadliest competitor of the titular Liar Game, still every bit as manipulative as ever, and is backed by the Liar Game Tournament Office itself.
  • Deconstructed in Ramen Fighter Miki, a hilarious deconstruction of the Fighting Series: Miki Onimaru, a Kung-Fu Kid who bullied boys four years older than her, has grown up into… a twenty-year-old Womanchild The Bully Arrogant Kung Fu Girl. The Rival, Megumi, is also the same case.
  • Yu-Gi-Oh! had a variation; none of the people he had originally tormented were there when it happened, but crossing three series of the entire franchise, Tetsu Ushio from the original (the upper-classman hall monitor who bullied Honda and Jonouchi and tried to extort money from Yugi) appeared as an adult in Yu-Gi-Oh! 5Ds, now a member of Sector Security (what they called the police force) and hardly changed a bit at first, now bullying the poverty-stricken underclass of Satellite under his jurisdiction. (As said, no one from the original series was there, but Word of God confirmed eventually that he was, indeed, the same person.) However, Ushio did start to change slowly after several meetings with Yusei (the fact that Godwin treated him like garbage helped a lot) and he eventually turned to a reluctant ally of the heroes, before finally making a full Heel–Face Turn.

    Comic Books 
  • Subversions occur at least twice in Archie Comics, both times with the gang hearing about an old friend returning to town, and then they (or at least Archie specifically) get freaked out thinking that the guy's gonna whomp 'em but good. These two stories are of the few times that Archie specifically tied its mythology to Little Archie:
    • Subversion: When Fangs Fogarty came back to town, he turned out to be a large young man, as could've been predicted from his childhood size. But he holds no ill will toward the gang — in fact, he sheds a tear over old times — and he's lost his nickname, thanks to dental surgery. The group parts amicably.
    • Double Subversion (?): When Ambrose Pipps came by, Archie recalled all the times he'd bullied and marginalized that poor little long-suffering kid, all the times he'd broken promises and refused Ambrose's well-meaning help — plus the times he'd made Ambrose cry. He started thinking about Ambrose having grown into a huge adult who would get Archie back for treating him bad all those years. Yet it turns out that Ambrose, true to his character, remembers only the good side of his childhood — and when Archie brings up the bad stuff, he shrugs it off.
  • In the Batman story "Street Demonz', there is a flashback of young Bruce being accosted and beaten by the titular gang. In the modern day, he confronts the gang again as Batman and even gets to punch out the guy who had beaten him up years ago (even quipping that the guy hasn't changed at all).
  • Subverted with Brittany, who bullies the title character in Earthboy Jacobus. By the time she grows up, she is not only on better terms with Jacobus but Happily Married to him as well.
    • It kind of helps that although she spends several years in a coma, they can communicate while Jake is on a different plane of existence. By the time she wakes up, she's fallen in love with him.
  • Firestorm: Cliff Carmichael was the intellectual tormentor of Ronnie Raymond (the teenager who would become half of the hero Firestorm). Carmichael eventually became the supervillain the New Thinker.
  • Spider-Man:
    • Averted with Flash Thompson, originally a rampaging Jerk Jock, who comes back from his overseas military service much wiser and more mature. He actually forms a friendship with one-time target Peter Parker, as both men have grown since their high school days. Flash was never all that bad compared to other bullies. He later becomes a superhero in his own right, as Agent Venom.
    • Played straight with the Garth Ennis story, "The Thousand", where the villain turns out to be a guy who bullied Peter when they were kids. He saw Peter get bitten by the spider and saw his first display of powers. He then promptly went back and ate the dead spider, hoping that'd give him Spider-Man powers. Instead, he turned into a thousand spiders that could take over a person by eating them from the inside.
    • Played very straight with Tombstone, who bullied Joe "Robbie" Robertson when they were at school together, and grew up to be a full-fledged supervillain.
  • Kron Stone was the bully at Miguel O'Hara's school in Spider-Man 2099. Since his dad was a Corrupt Corporate Executive who owned New York, he got steadily worse as a young adult, eventually killing Jake Gallows' family for the hell of it. Gallows became The Punisher 2099, shot Stone, and dumped the body in the sewers. This only led to him being "saved" by the Symbiote and confronting Miguel again, as Venom 2099.
  • Reid Fleming, World's Toughest Milkman is a rare case where the protagonist is a schoolyard bully all grown up. The author actually based Reid on a schoolyard bully from his childhood, reimagined as an adult. Now he terrorizes his customers, and anyone else he feels like.
  • Ultimate X-Men: Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch were vicious bullies towards David Xavier when they were kids. Now they are grown up, and still fight against Xavier's new kids, the X-Men.
  • X-Men villain Mr. Sinister is known for his unethical genetic practices and his somewhat disturbing obsession with the Summers family. However, few people know his original intended origin: he was a young rival of Cyclops who couldn't age. By the time Cyclops was an adult, Kid Sinister was still stuck as an 8-year-old (physically and mentally), and he used his mutant powers to change his appearance into that of a gaudy, over-the-top supervillain: an 8-year-old's vision of a cool supervillain. When considering that origin, Mr. Sinister's corny appearance, unimpressive name, and stereotypical supervillain demeanor actually make sense. But, The Powers That Be decided not to go with that origin... It also explains his minions: The Nasty Boys (a name an 8-year-old would be far more likely to pick than a mad geneticist) earn their name by being filthy ultra-slobs, living in conditions akin to the X-Men: Evolution version of the Brotherhood. In other words, they never take baths or clean their space — part of an 8-year-old's idea of perfect freedom. In the canon version, one has to presume that the Nasty Boys named themselves rather than being named by Sinister and that he just uses them as minions because it would be no great loss if they get killed.

    Fan Works 
  • In the Origins Issue of Dragon Ball Reboot, Gine signs up for a fighting tournament being held to determine which Saiyan gets to join Bardock's team. She is surprised when her first opponent turns out to be her childhood bully Aikon, who is eager for the chance to beat her up again.
  • Reminiscence averts this superbly. Moe and Calvin reunite at Suzie's funeral. The moment is gut-wrenchingly tragic and heartwarming at the same time, to the point where you can never look at Moe the same way again.
  • Mass Effect The Equestrian Equation; a major twist was that Fluttershy was once a bully in school and a particularly barbaric one at that. So what changed? The Celestia AI Mind Raped her into being the Loveable Coward we all know and love, in an effort to keep her stable enough to guide Equestria according to Celestia's simulations.
  • In the comedic-yet insane MLP fanfic MLP: FML Fluttershy of all people is this. To the point where when her former victim Gilda sees her for the first time in years, she's still outright TERRIFIED of her.
  • The Kim Possible fanfic An Old Foe Returns gives us a unique version in the form of Mastermind, who used to be Bobo the Chimp, the Camp Wannaweep mascot that drove Ron to fear all things monkey and ape. After encountering him, Kim realizes that Ron's fear of monkeys made more sense than she thought.
  • In Ultimate Spider-Woman: Change With The Light, high school student Harvey Broxtel was a violent, bullying thug who beat people up with everything from his fists to baseball bats. His attitude was that his wealthy father's money and his father's connections would allow him to beat the rap. He was wrong, and he was eventually arrested and jailed. Unfortunately, he tried to escape from prison, and in the process got doused with an experimental superheated plasma that gave him the ability to manipulate and control fire. Now, as the flaming, psychotic Firebrand, Harvey is now a full-blown Pyro Maniacal psychopath. Oh, and his Hair-Trigger Temper combines with the fact that his fires become hotter and deadlier as his rage increases.

    Film — Animated 

    Film — Live-Action 
  • 13 Sins: Jon Witter and his brother used to pick on Elliot during middle school, including dangling him out the computer lab window. Neither of them has improved in attitude when he meets them as adults. Elliot cuts the arm of one of them and smashes a chair over the head of the other.
  • In Anger Management, at one point Dr. Rydell takes Dave to the home of his childhood bully... only to discover he is now a Buddhist monk. Dave is reluctant to start anything until it turns out the bully still thinks that at least one of his pranks was genuinely funny. At his therapist's urging, they end up wrestling right there in the monastery.
  • Arachnophobia: Lloyd delights in using his power as sheriff to belittle or inconvenience the people whom he dislikes (although he does ease off some after Ross's theories are proven to be right), and his former teacher Margaret says he was the same way in her class.
  • Back to the Future: Biff Tannen in the original timeline forced George McFly to help him with his schoolwork while he and his gang physically bullied him, and then Biff forced George to do his paperwork for him and is his employer. More so in 1985-A, where he's become a rich Corrupt Corporate Executive who went so far as to murder George to claim Lorraine as a trophy wife. Averted in the understood alternate timeline that Marty returns to at the end of the first movie. Biff, having been humbled by George, who in turn was made more confident due to Marty's guidance, is no longer Meek Office Drone George's evil cube farm boss, but an auto detailer who is waxing Acclaimed Sci-Fi Author George's fancy cars.
  • Benchwarmers: Subverted by protagonist Gus Matthews as it turns out he was a schoolyard bully that used stinging insults (rather than fists) to torment other kids. That's why he's standing up against bullies as an adult; he hates who he was and what he did, and thinks that if there is any karma in the world, his own kid will be either picked on mercilessly or an even worse bully than he was, unless he can make up for some of what he did by helping out against bullies now.
  • In Big Bully, the bully Roscoe Bigger, a.k.a. Fang (Tom Arnold), thinks he and his victim David Leary (Rick Moranis) were friends back in school. Roscoe returns to bullying him after David becomes a teacher at their old school (and where Roscoe teaches shop class). Ironically, their sons are in exactly reversed positions.
  • Don Price, from Burton's Big Fish, was consistently overshadowed by Edward Bloom during their childhood. When Edward comes to win Sandra Tempelton's heart, he has to duke it out with Don... who beats the living crud out of Edward (out of Sandra's request that Bloom not hurt him). Although while the stories in the film are true, the much-older Bloom embellishes them when he tells them, so it's possible that in reality Price wasn't as bad a person as he appeared nor as consistently overshadowed in everything.
  • Flirted with in Billy Madison: After being bullied upon returning to high school, he realizes his own bullying had emotionally hurt his victims and tries to make amends. He calls up one of these victims, apologizes, and befriends him. Immediately after, the victim crosses Billy off a list of people to kill, implying that he had been intending to exact revenge on him (and numerous other individuals). Becomes something of a Chekhov's Gun, as the victim — a trained rifle marksman, it turns out — saves Billy and Veronica when Eric snaps and pulls a gun on them at the final decathlon event.
  • In The Breakfast Club, Andy Clark's abusive father is a Jerk Jock who never matured past high school.
  • In Central Intelligence, Trevor is a Jerk Jock who picks on overweight loser Robbie, including a prank of having him be naked in front of the school. 20 years later, Robbie is now Rob, a well-muscled and elite CIA agent. He and Calvin (the former jock hero who was kind to Robbie back then), reunite with Trevor as part of a case. Trevor is kind and apologetic at first, then reveals it's an act, and he resumes his bullying ways.
  • City of God: Li'l Dice is an Enfant Terrible of his pack of child gangsters, but grows up to be Li'l Ze, the feared boss of the favela.
  • A Clockwork Orange: Alex was the bully of his little pack of teen hoodlums, but when he pushes them too far, they strike back and leave him on the hook for a murder charge. After several years, Alex is back on the streets and crosses paths with his former droogs. They've grown up and taken "a job for two who are now of job age: the police!" They pummel him within an inch of his life.
  • In Freaky Friday (2003), it's revealed that one of the girl's teachers picks on her because her mother wouldn't date him when they were in school together.
  • The Gift (2015): Inverted, in which the bully is the protagonist. Simon was a bully growing up, and when he was in high school, he and his best friend lied that they saw Gordo getting raped by an older man simply because they could, utterly ruining Gordo's life. As an adult, Simon continues to mock Gordo behind his back, and when his wife confronts him about his past actions, he shows no remorse for what he did. As such, it's hard to feel bad for Simon after his life gets destroyed, much like how he destroyed Gordo's life.
  • Subverted in Grosse Pointe Blank, when Martin Blank meets his former bully Bob at his high school reunion. Bob tries to antagonize Martin, but Martin is unimpressed, being a deadly assassin these days, as well as completely uninterested in any comeuppance. Bob then tries to open up and read a poem to him, but Martin has bigger fish to fry.
  • Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle: Kumar accuses a cop of being this, to which the cop happily admits.
  • Mayor Augustus Maywho (Jeffrey Tambor) in The Movie of How the Grinch Stole Christmas!. A Jerkass as both a kid and an adult.
  • Used in Johnny Dangerously, when Danny Vermin, the underling who keeps trying to subvert Johnny's authority, happened to be the bully who got his ass kicked by Johnny when they were kids.
    Vermin: Let's just say I've fulfilled a lot of people's expectations about me; I've become a real scumbag.
  • Inverted in Old School, when Jeremy Piven's character, Dean Pritchard, who was bullied in college ("Cheee-eeeese") turns out to be the dean of the college and is out to make the protagonists' life a living hell.
  • The Power of One: The school bully that tormented the protagonist as a child later turns up as an evil Apartheid-enforcing police officer. We know it's the same guy since he has a swastika tattooed on his arm and obviously only one person could have that.
  • In You Again, the protagonist Marnie finds out to her horror that her brother is getting married to her former high school bully Joanna, who herself keeps brushing off every cruel thing she did to Marnie in the belief that they should just leave it all behind it in the past and start over. However, it turns out Joanna really did turn over a new leaf in the years since and part of the reason why she refused to acknowledge any of her actions was that she felt genuinely ashamed of her past behavior.

  • Bend Sinister: Inverted in Nabokov's novel, where the Evil Dictator was the kid all the other kids (including the protagonist) used to pick on.
  • "The Body": During the main character Gordon's narration of his childhood relationship with his friends, they were often bullied beyond mere sadism by Ace and his gang of thugs. Despite none of his friends surviving past young adulthood, there's a little satisfaction for the reader in the end when Gordon meets Ace, who has become a broken shell of a man and doesn't recognize him.
  • Flashman, the bully from Tom Brown's Schooldays, gets his own series where he is, unusually for this trope, the protagonist. In the early books, he's a bullying Villain Protagonist and a Dirty Coward, but after karma catches up to him enough for it, he eventually grows up into a pragmatic and charming Anti-Hero.
  • Harry Potter
    • Played With with Sadist Teacher Severus Snape. In "Order of the Phoenix", we get to see that Severus Snape did indeed often get humiliated by Harry's father, James Potter back when they were schoolboys, something which Harry didn't take well. On the other hand, Snape gave as well as he got, (as a matter of fact inventing the spell Harry saw James using on him) hence why the two very much hated each other.
    • Snape also plays this straight indirectly considering that he was part of the group that grew up to be the Death Eaters. Meanwhile, Snape's gang openly supported a hate cult and signed up straight out of school. Snape remains in many ways the same bitter person he was back then.
    • When we get glimpses of Voldemort's past, he also was a cruel and bullying kid, though being Voldemort, he went about it rather subtly. Rather surprisingly, the only one of Voldemort's schoolmates to end up opposing him as an adult seems to be Hagrid. Voldemort got Hagrid kicked out of school, and banned from ever using magic again, on suspicion of raising a monster that killed a girl. After the second book, Hagrid may or may not know that Voldemort was the one who released the monster in the first place.
    • Averted with Draco Malfoy, whose rivalry with Harry ends in a stalemate, and he goes on to raise his son, Scorpius, to be a better man than he was. As adults, he and Harry are civil towards each other, and while they're not friends, they're not enemies either.
    • Similarly, Dudley spent almost all of his childhood beating up Harry and eventually started avoiding him once Harry learned enough magic to defend himself. In the last book, though, it's revealed that Dudley really was grateful to Harry for saving him from Dementors two years ago and the two part on friendly terms. Word of God says that they stay on "Christmas card" terms. The change of behavior is justified by Dudley's run-in with the Dementors, which Rowling said caused him to face his worst fear — seeing himself as he was to other people.
  • From Honor Harrington, Lord Pavel Young was a bully to many and attempted rapist of Honor (and likely others, based on comments made about him) when they were in the military academy. He tries to use his family's influence to screw her naval career from her first deployment to her deployment under his command when she gains command of a light cruiser. Eventually drummed out of the service, he uses his family's power to have Harrington's lover legally assassinated in a duel just to get back at her. Her shooting the bastard dead was one of the more satisfying book endings in the early part of the series.
  • Info Quake: In this science fiction novel, Brone goes to a futuristic boarding school with Natch, the protagonist. Years later, Brone invites Natch into his office, uses virtual reality to play mind games with Natch, then brags about how he's not holding any grudges because he's forgiven him because he's so morally superior, and asks Natch to cooperate with him in an important business matter.
  • It: Acting as a puppet for the book's titular character, Henry Bowers escapes from a mental institution to get revenge on the kids who kept escaping from him twenty-seven years ago.
  • Assef in The Kite Runner is also a pretty typical example. He starts off as a sadistic bully in pre-Taliban Afghanistan before growing up to be... well, a sadistic bully in Taliban Afghanistan. He also becomes a Taliban official/executioner, so that makes him a bit more powerful than he was as a teenager. To make matters worse, he's become a pedophile rapist who worships Hitler.
  • Needful Things: Ace, who became a drug dealer and gunrunner, is employed by the story's Big Bad, Leland Gaunt, and eventually gets shot by a police officer.
  • The Ben Elton novel Past Mortem is all about the relationship and dynamic between bullies and victims when they're all grown up; the novel's serial killer, himself a bullied child in his past, uses the 'Friends Reunited' website to target former bullies based on the testimony of their former victims as posted on the website. Naturally, the main character, who is the investigating police detective, meets his own school bully, also a detective, who ends up spying on and interfering in the main character's investigation in order to try and get his rapidly failing career back on track. In a confrontation, the bully reveals why he picked on and hates the main character so much; the main character assumed it was because he was a bit of a dorky outcast at school, but the bully reveals that it was actually because, compared to the bully's own self-loathing and mixed-up insecurity (prompted by, amongst other things, his homosexuality), the main character was always self-assured, confident, and secure in his own skin, and never let anyone — particularly the bully — affect this. The bully ends up becoming a victim of the serial killer himself.
  • The Power of One: the Judge (i.e. how Peekay knew the bully) is partnered with Peekay as his diamond-driller in the Northern Rhodesian mines.
  • The fourth book in Tamora Pierce's Song of the Lioness quartet has a mysterious antagonist named Claw, who attempts to take the leadership of Tortall's thieves from Alanna's companion George Cooper, and causes a fair amount of carnage along the way. Turns out he's Ralon, the older page who tormented Alanna mercilessly in the first book until she learned how to beat him up.
  • Soon I Will Be Invincible: This Superhero Pastiche has this motivation for Dr. Impossible, who became a supervillain partially so he could take revenge against the Jerk Jock he was so envious of. This motivation is subject to some heavy lampshading towards the end, where one character points out at the end of a fist just how pathetic this is. It's also to be taken with a grain of salt, as there are some indications that what Doc says happened and what did happen are two very different things.
  • A variation is found in Andrew Robinson's novel Star Trek: Deep Space Nine: A Stitch in Time. The Cardassians that seem to delight the most in oppressing Bajorans during the Occupation are the same ones that bullied Garak while he attended the Bamarren Institute.
  • Subverted in The Wish List. One of the things Lowrie wants to do before he dies is getting even with the guy who bullied him at school. However, when the two finally meet, the ex-bully is found to be a fairly likable person who really regrets the things he did in school.

    Live-Action TV 
  • In 21 Jump Street, the main characters recount the bullies who have plagued them in their youth. When Doug Penhall recounts his particularly bitter memories of such a tormentor, a friend suggests he seek the bully out and confront him. However, when Penhall does just that by finding the bully's current home, he learns that the bully is now a pathetic unemployed loser with an unhappy marriage to a shrewish wife. Delighted at this turn of events, Penhall decides not to speak to him and returns home quietly gloating about how he got the classic best revenge by living well.
  • A unique version on 30 Rock in episode Reunion as Liz had spoken of her memories of being a picked-on nerd in high school. However, when she attends her reunion, she discovers that everyone considered her the bully whose put-downs (which Liz remembers as defensive humor) were vicious insults and she's the most loathed person in her class. She attempts to make things up to them throughout the entire episode, but by this point they refuse to accept any apology and treat her more coldly with each attempt. Eventually, they decide to get revenge by enacting the "Pig's Blood" scene from Carrie on her, and while it fails, it makes Liz give up trying to make up for her actions to them; with her instead going back to mistreating and putting them down, only now it's intentionally rather than obliviously.
  • In an episode of The Big Bang Theory, "The Speckerman Reoccurrence", Leonard's high school bully contacted him on Facebook and asked to get drinks. When they meet up, Speckerman was very polite, praised Leonard for his accomplishments, and seemed to not realize he tormented Leonard, who left him with a list of offenses. Later, Speckerman showed up drunk at Leonard's apartment and apologized for everything he's done, with Leonard letting him stay the night so that he won't drive drunk. In the morning and sobered up, he immediately reverts to his high school bully ways but by this time, Leonard was no longer afraid of him, unfortunately not realizing he still can't match him on a physical level. The episode ends with Sheldon and Leonard running from the guy.
  • Inverted in Brassic, where the bully who grew up to be a criminal is the hero and the victim who grew up to be a cop is the villain. The series protagonist, Vinnie, was well-liked and popular at school but had a very difficult home life. He took out his feelings on Carl Slater; a friendless, obnoxious Teacher's Pet, and led other kids in tormenting Slater as well. As a result, Slater became vicious and spiteful basically as a defence mechanism, and joined the police so he could have power over others when he was powerless as a kid. Vinnie actually does really regret how he acted when he was younger and acknowledges that he played a big part in making Slater the officious creep he is today.
  • Burnistoun: Johnny Wee Tollen's Boy is The Doberman (a masked superhero)'s greatest enemy because he bullied The Doberman when they were in school, mocking him for being a virgin and forcing him to hump a pole. Johnny Wee Tollen's Boy acts the same as an adult and is still able to get a rise out of The Doberman. In one sketch, he's able to force The Doberman to hump a pole despite being locked in a jail cell.
  • This is at the core of Cobra Kai, a sequel to The Karate Kid (1984) with Johnny Lawrence as the protagonist. Daniel LaRusso is still around as well, but while Johnny has become a Jaded Washout, Daniel found great success and has everything Johnny doesn't. Johnny is constantly torn between his old feud with Daniel and the realisation that he really was a Jerkass back when he used to beat Daniel up and he needs to rise to become a better man if he wants to revive the Cobra Kai dojo, not helped by the fact that Daniel hasn't let go of the old grudges either and is out to stop him. Also it's Played for Laughs on numerous occasions, such as when he goes to the high school to talk to Miguel and, on his way out, slaps the books out of the hands of a nerd who passes by.
    Johnny: Sorry, kid. Old habit.
  • Used a lot in Cold Case. Naturally, the bullies tend to become Future Losers.
  • The Doctor Blake Mysteries: In "The Silence", Blake and Superintendent Lawson investigate a murder at their old school. The deputy headmaster is the old school bully who used to torment Lawson and still enjoys intimidating the children. Lawson's confrontation with him at the end of the episode is a joy to behold.
  • Sam Hess in Fargo is a particularly nasty example, still acting like the Jerk Jock he was in high school and continuing to bully and humiliate his old victim Lester every chance he gets, even breaking his nose. This last act is what ultimately gets him killed.
  • In Emily Owens, M.D., Cassandra Kopelson was an Alpha Bitch in high school and remained one as an adult. Both Emily and Cassandra are interns at the same hospital, and Cassandra keeps tormenting Emily with gusto.
  • Frasier: An episode has Frasier and Niles' two bullies (also brothers) from high school show up as plumbers and of course don't recognize the Crane brothers. Niles is intent on some kind of vengeful confrontation, but Frasier urges him to be the bigger man and rise above doing anything juvenile or malicious. Niles is reluctant but quickly discovers that his bully has turned out to be a pretty normal, decent guy. He's now a successful business owner and family man. Niles reveals their connection and does make him confront his past actions but the man is remorseful and Niles actually ends up giving him free therapy, working together to understand why he was a bully and the two become amicable. Meanwhile, Frasier is trying the same tact with the second one, however, the guy is unrepentant about the abuse he dished out to other kids, essentially blaming them for being such easy targets. He begins fondly reminiscing about all the horrible things he used to do to his favorite victim in school, not realizing that his victim is right in front of him. Eventually Frasier can't take it anymore and gives him a swirly in his toilet.
  • In Season One of The Flash (2014), one of the first metahumans Barry has to confront is his old tormentor at school, Tony Woodward, who gained the ability to turn his body into metal when he fell into a vat of molten scrap during the Particle Accelerator explosion.
  • In an episode of Friends, Chip Matthews, a guy who went to Monica and Rachel's high school, has apparently not changed at all in the intervening decade: he actually got a bunch of his high school friends together, tracked down another guy they used to go to high school with, and gave him a wedgie in the middle of a public street.
  • The George Lopez Show: An early episode involves Carmen being bullied by a group of Alpha Bitches because her ex-boyfriend spread rumors about sleeping with her. George arranges a meeting with the school counselor, who happened to be George's bully from when he was in school. The counselor seems reluctant to punish the group of girls and George takes that as payback for what happened when they were kids (he got expelled because of George). But the counselor seems to be a nice man overall and his reluctance to punish the girls had more to do with not breaking the school's code than out of pettiness.
  • The TV Land reality show "High School Reunion" had really hyped up how one of the guys on the show was going to confront the man who bullied him in school all those years ago. Only for this to fall flat on his face when the bully turns out to be rather apathetic about the whole thing, saying "That was more than ten years ago. I don't care."
  • iCarly:
    • "Spanky" used to spank Spencer when they were both kids. Now, he is a cop and bugs Spencer on duty, in front of his partner. The episode he's in ends with Spencer handcuffing "Spanky" over a couch and spanking him with a broom, much to Spencer's delight (and Spanky's own son finds it hilarious as well). And yes, the writers do seem to know just how wrong it is, as Carly walks downstairs to get something, sees the scene, and heads right back upstairs.
    • When Spencer was in middle school, he was a prankster and ended up playing a trick that accidentally blinded (temporarily) a couple of classmates and sent them to the hospital. The incident made him give up pranking. When Spencer starts playing pranks again as an adult, his sister Carly calls up the kids he blinded, now all grown up, for an intervention to stop him. They still hold a grudge and beat the crap out of him when Carly leaves the room.
  • Elliot on Just Shoot Me! is visited by the boy who bullied him at school. Turns out he's now shorter than Elliot. Still, he manages to humiliate Elliot same as before.
    • Elliot finally stands up to the bully and hits him. He is then booed by his co-workers for hitting someone smaller than him.
  • Married... with Children: Al Bundy is a rare protagonist example who by his own admission was the big dumb bully of his school. As an adult, he lives a life of pathetic mediocrity but still loves getting into fights and picking on others.
  • Anthony DiNozzo on NCIS can come across as this in regards to his treatment of Timothy McGee, which involves insults (his favorite being "McGeek"), pranks that can be very cruel (setting up a video of a vicious dog to play after he'd been mauled by a dog), and constantly belittling his 'nerdy' interests/lack of 'manliness'.
    • Later double subverted. Tony gleefully recalls a rather nasty prank he played on another student. Then, while reflecting on it, he feels increasingly guilty about how cruel, dangerous, and sadistic the prank was. He goes to apologize to the man... only to learn that he was misremembering the event. Tony was actually the victim of the prank but buried and altered his memory of it.
  • Sandra from New Tricks was apparently a really, really mean schoolyard bully, and into the police academy too. One of the team's cases involved a fellow police officer whose boyfriend Sandra had spitefully slept with and then driven him out of the academy. Her bullying tendencies did come through in a lot of the early adventures, and Sandra was generally ashamed of it. Season 1 showed she was getting therapy because of it, and later, she was too ashamed to go to her high school reunion because of all the people she bullied there.
  • Gus and Shawn meet their schoolyard bully grown up on Psych. He's a 4-foot-tall jockey who hasn't grown since grade school.
  • Raising Hope has a rather unusual case. Jimmy and Frank were tormented by a bully years ago, but the bully stopped when Jimmy's mom forced him to put on lipstick and threatened to do worse next time. When Jimmy and Frank go to confront the bully in the present day, it turns out he underwent a sex change and is now a woman, because he realized he was unhappy as a guy and that was the real reason he became a bully. Jimmy is understanding, but Frank sucker-punches the former bully anyway. After a moment of stunned silence, the transgender former bully promptly beats the crap out of Frank (and Jimmy too when he tries to intervene).
  • A really bizarre subversion in an episode of Scrubs: J.D. tells Turk that he was making out with a hot girl, when the three Jerk Jocks from his high school saw him, admitted they were clearly wrong about him and added that they were now "all gay together". He's making it up.
  • An episode of Supernatural focuses on a memorable time in Sam Winchester's life when he went to a nice school for a handful of weeks. It was only marred by a bully who came back as a homicidal rule-breaking ghost who was killing bullies. The bully himself thought he was the victim because he was teased after Young!Sam beat him up defending himself. The bully probably was bullied after Sam left, with a new nickname and everyone knowing he was weak.
  • In The Twilight Zone (1985) episode "One Life, Furnished in Early Poverty", Gus discovers that one of the guys who used to bully him as a kid is now a taxi driver. This causes him to appreciate his life a bit more.
  • In an episode of The West Wing, a lawyer trying to get his client's death sentence commuted needs to talk to the White House. His connection is Sam, whom he says he used to beat up in high school.

    Newspaper Comics 

    Professional Wrestling 
  • The ECW feud between Tommy Dreamer and Raven was based on the "classmate seeking revenge" version of the trope; Dreamer had bullied Raven and stole his girlfriend Beulah when they were kids, and, years later, Raven showed up in ECW looking to ruin Tommy's life. In the intervening years, Tommy had undergone a Heel–Face Turn and turned out to be a pretty decent guy, but Raven was so eaten up with hatred and anger that he didn't care.
  • John "Bradshaw" Layfield admitted in a promo that he was this.
  • Many of the fans' signs will accuse heel wrestlers of being this.
  • The Miz's apprentice Alex Riley has this and being a Jerk Jock as his gimmick. He pulls it off very well, calling himself "The Varsity Villain," because he's inherited his pro's mic skills and has a Letterman Jacket as part of his ring attire. It gets weird once you realize that his pro is a disrespected guy that started as a bit of a loser, and was in fact bullied in Real Life by the aforementioned Jerkass JBL.
  • Ryback became this following his heel turn, from smearing food in peoples' faces and hazing rookies to his catchphrase ("Ryback Rules!"). This hasn't kept Ryback from saying he can't stand bullies.

    Video Games 
  • The plot of Reading Blaster: Ages 9 - 12 involves a stereotypical Mad Scientist, Dr. Dabble, attempting to take revenge against several people for supposed transgressions that they committed against him when he was in high school. (After you rescue them, the victims always reveal that he always had it coming.)
  • Teepo in Breath of Fire III. His role as a bully is arguable though; he considers Ryu and Rei as family, and only acts as a bully to anyone outside of their family. His big mouth more than often gets them into trouble, though...
  • In The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, Sorex Vinius, a resident of Solitude, will note that Roggvir, the man who was publicly executed for enabling Ulfric Stormcloak's clean escape after killing High King Torryg, was a bully to Sorex when they were kids. Evidently. Roggvir managed to even put a beehive in Sorex's bed. The fact that he continued tormenting Sorex meant that he was glad to see Roggvir get his head chopped off.
  • Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas has an inversion in the form of one of the motorcycle cop voices, who can sometimes be heard telling CJ that he used to bully him back as a kid. Though he keeps acting as a bully despite being a cop, wanting to take him down by himself.
  • Atris in Knights of the Old Republic II: The Sith Lords. Her present-day enmity towards the Exile derives from being simultaneously infatuated and jealous of them ever since they went through Jedi training together, taking it as a betrayal when the Exile left to join Revan in fighting the Mandalorians, whilst secretly wishing she could have joined them. This resentment ends up fueling her eventual fall to the Dark Side.
  • In LISA, Chris Columbo, the playground bully protagonist Brad defends his friends from in the pre-apocalypse, returns with his gang later on to continue to torment Brad, though he's pretty much the least threatening villain Brad has to face.
  • The plot of Lost Judgment revolves around the murder of Hiro Mikoshiba, a man who bullied a classmate into committing suicide four years prior, and who seemed to be going for a repeat performance during his time as a student teacher. The Big Bad has a gang of grown-up bullies that he blackmailed into helping him in his Bully Hunter crusade (which also targets these kinds of people for murder), and while they hate what they're doing now, none of them show remorse for their actions as students.
    • Shinya Kawai is also revealed to have bullied a classmate into attempting suicide, only for said classmate to end up in a coma for 13 years. He had zero remorse for doing so, and would frequently brag about driving his classmate to a suicide attempt to the locals of Kamurocho prior to his death.
  • The Gainax Ending of Monkey Island 2: LeChuck's Revenge reveals that LeChuck is Guybrush's brother, who put him through all that misery over Guybrush accidentally breaking one of his action toys. Mind Screw doesn't even start to cover the way it is presented.
  • The Big Bad of Mother 3 is Porky, Ness' old next-door neighbour and ruler of the Pig Mask Army.
  • Persona 5 Strikers: Alice Hiiragi, a famous fashion designer, suddenly snaps as soon as people talk about her crush, forces a TV host to confess to her in front of public view, and steps on her manager in a hallway because he dared try to stop her, and she even brags that she bullied her previous manager in the same way and made him not leave his house. In a similar tangent, Mariko Hiyodo orders her civil wards to do absurd things no distinguished politician will order anyone to do, such as watching the flowers 24 hours a day. These happen because EMMA traps the Monarch's Shadow Self in Bird Cages, which prevents them from moving away from their traumas, causing the real-world Monarchs to act in a Pay Evil Unto Evil Mentality reflective of what their oppressors did to them. Since Alice's trauma is being stepped on by a bully jealous of her looks and Mariko's trauma is being discredited over a political corruption scandal framed on her, the former replicates the exact same abuse her school bullies put her through, and the latter starts overworking her civil wards for petty reasons to stamp out corruption.
  • The third vid-comic in Ratchet & Clank: Up Your Arsenal reveals that Captain Qwark and Dr. Nefarious go way back to Qwark's 9th-grade Biology class, in which he used to pick on Nefarious for his headgear, among other things. A wedgie for old times' sake sends Nefarious careening into a pit, temporarily ending Dr. Nefarious' reign of terror but turning him into a robot. However, Qwark happened to be 26 years old and three times Nefarious' size at the time.
  • In Shin Megami Tensei I, Ozawa first appears as your average delinquent overmaster, torturing the soon-to-be Chaos Hero for wasting his time with "nonsense" about demons. However, he quickly joins forces with Gotou and becomes a rather powerful conjurer in his own right. After the End, he joins up with the next demonic invasion.
  • In World of Warcraft, the younger self of Scarlet Champion Herod can be seen in the Caverns of Time. At that point, he was known as "Herod the Bully".

  • As much as she is painted as one of the good guys, Elf Blood's Shanna Whittle is in no way a pleasant person. At school, she apparently bullied Gipsy (although this was justified in Shanna's mind as Gipsy stole a boyfriend of hers), she bullied TKO (while the two were out on their graduation mission), and she stole Carlita's lunch money (vengeance for which was exacted with brutal precision). Even today, she still prefers to deal with things with force and fists than reasoning and talking.
  • Subverted in PvP when Francis encounters his old bully at a high school reunion. He goes over to give the guy a piece of his mind and isn't pleased when Teezo can't even remember him. Then it turns out that while he doesn't remember Francis specifically, he knows what a jerk he was and only came to the reunion to apologize to people.
  • In Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal, we find out what's worse than being murdered, being murdered by your former bully.

    Web Video 
  • Text Theater: Katy bullied Jane in high school and continued her torment well into their adult years and constantly threatened to upload Jane's embarrassing photos. Katy tried to impress Jane's brother with a watch stolen from Jane but he was not impressed, and he fired her from his company.

    Western Animation 
  • Alfred J. Kwak: Dolf is initially just your typical schoolyard bully. He grows up to become a fascist, Hitler-like dictator.
  • American Dad!: Growing up, Stan Smith was bullied by a big Greek kid named Stelio Kontos. When Stan tries to be his own son Steve's bully in an attempt to toughen him up, Steve finds Stelio (who now works at Klinko's) and hires him to beat Stan up.
  • A Back at the Barnyard episode sees Otis dreading the arrival of an old bully. The bully turns out to be a duck (voiced by Tom "Biff" Wilson), but he still terrifies Otis. When the other characters attempt to gang up on him in defense, the duck beats them all silly. Then the duck simply says that he has had therapy and just wanted to apologize to Otis for bullying him.
  • Ben 10: In the original series, Ben was occasionally menaced by a pair of bullies named Cash and JT. When they made a reappearance in Alien Force, they ended up on the receiving end of a "The Reason You Suck" Speech by a now-older Ben, leading to Cash trying — and failing — to get revenge on him using some alien tech.
  • In one episode of CatDog, Dog, who took pride in being able to catch any delivery person who came to the house, encountered a new mailman who proved to be too fast for him. This caused Dog to go into a deep depression, being reminded of when he was a pup and got beaten down by a paperboy that he was unable to touch. Eventually, Cat snapped him out of it, leading to a final showdown with the mailman, during which it was revealed that he was the very paperboy Dog encountered as a pup. In the end, Dog took a chunk out of his pants, regaining his drive and settling his childhood trauma.
  • An episode of Darkwing Duck had Drake go to his high school reunion and meet the Alpha Bitch and Jerk Jock who made his life miserable for years; only now, they're rich and successful and still treat him like crap (and for bonus points, they idolize Darkwing). During a fight with Megavolt (who also attended the school), DW's mask comes off and the bullies make fun of him some more. In the end, he saves the day they apologize for the way they acted and for not recognizing that he was a good person, and promise to keep his secret (he says thanks, but uses hypnosis to erase their memories anyway).
  • Family Guy had an episode where Peter wanted revenge on his high school bully, only to discover that he's now crippled by multiple sclerosis. Peter still tries to beat him up, but Chris intervenes and points out to Peter that he himself has become a bully.
  • In one episode of Johnny Bravo, Johnny gets a visit from Mr. T, who's visiting to answer a letter Johnny sent him when he was a kid to help stop a bully who was picking on him. Mr. T helps Johnny toughen up and goes to confront the bully, who turned out to become Richard Simmons.
  • In Kim Possible, it turns out that we have the 'classmate with a grudge seeking revenge' version: Doctor Drakken, Kim's arch-foe, goes after the three guys who laughed at him in college, driving him to drop out and starting his slide into evil. The trio are all physicists and their ringleader? Kim's dad.
    • The crime? Mocking Drakken's freaky robot 'dates'. Granted, this one is more personal because the three guys, including Dr. Mr. Possible, were all friends with Drakken. It wasn't just the laughing at him, but feeling backstabbed by his former friends. And the part where they laughed for weeks according to Kim's dad.
    • There's also the 'camp bully' version with Gill, who used to be Gil before overexposure to Camp Wannaweep's polluted lake mutated him. Apparently, he was Ron's cabinmate before he and Ron made a switch in their activities. Given how Ron never saw Gil again, this is probably where Ron ended up bunking with the monkey mascot of Lake Wannaweep that gave him his fear of monkeys.
  • Oh Yeah! Cartoons had an example in the Dan Danger short "Danger 101", where Dan Danger makes an appearance at his old school and finds out that he has to make up for a day of gym class he missed in his youth and that his bully Robert (who's still there because of his inability to pass the seventh grade) intends to clobber him. When Dan stands up to Robert in the end, Robert is so impressed that he doesn't go through with beating Dan, realizes what a jerk he has been, and instead asks Dan to sign his yearbook.
  • In The Ren & Stimpy Show episode "School Mates," an old classmate of Ren's named Chuck comes to visit him, but he is appalled to hear Ren is living with Stimpy, who is a cat. Over the course of a few flashbacks, however, it is revealed Chuck is Ren's bully and he humiliated him at every opportunity and made him miserable.
  • Rocko's Modern Life: Rocko spends an episode dreading a visit from his childhood bully Dingo, and training so he could finally fight back, but as it turns out, Dingo wants to make peace with him. Oh, and he's a member of a weird pacifistic cult, and insists on making amends by letting Rocko punch him in the face. Rocko did so and Dingo would leave. However, as soon as Rocko went back inside, Rocko's friends (Heffer and Filburt) started beating up Dingo.
  • A U.S. Acres segment of Garfield and Friends had Orson fearing an old bully of his who is coming to "settle" with him. He finally faces him...where he returns all the lunch money he stole from him.
  • The "classmate with a grudge seeking revenge" version occurs in The Venture Bros. when Dr. Venture, Brock Samson, Baron Ünderbheit, and Pete White get kidnapped by their old college classmate Mike Sorayama, who holds grudges against all of them. Although his revenge is elaborate and impressive, it's all a bit much considering that the things he hates them for are all pretty minor, most of which revolve around his pathetic unrequited crush on an attractive classmate and their teasing of him for it. Worst of all, the thing he hates Venture for was something he didn't even really donote . Not surprisingly, they all consider the fact that he kidnapped them and intends to subject them all to a lengthy and horrible Death Trap to be a little excessive.

    Real Life 
  • A bullied man confronted his alleged childhood bully, a school district superintendent, 35 years later, according to this story by ABC 13 Houston, and here by the Dallas Morning News. Following this, more witnesses came to testify about the event.
  • According to the New York State Police Department, a Downplayed Trope version of this is Truth in Television: 1 in 4 schoolyard bullies will get a criminal record for a felony before he turns 30. Not quite supervillain material, but still notable.


Video Example(s):


Not The Paperboy Anymore

In his final showdown with the mailman that he had been unable to touch, Dog discovers that he was once the very paperboy that used to call him "Slowpoke" as a pup.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (8 votes)

Example of:

Main / SchoolyardBullyAllGrownUp

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