Follow TV Tropes


The Dog Bites Back

Go To
In which the hunter becomes the hunted.

"I will treat any beast which I control through magic or technology with respect and kindness. Thus if the control is ever broken, it will not immediately come after me for revenge."
Evil Overlord List, Rule #48

When the villain is dispatched by an abused member of 'his' side when an opportunity for revenge presents itself.

It's all gone to hell. The base is collapsing about your ears, your Evil Plan is unraveling, the heroes are lining up for the Humiliation Conga — what more could go wrong?

Well, remember that mook you humiliated in front of his friends? Or that victim you blackmailed, chained up or enchanted? Or that member of your crew you abandoned to the cops when they came knocking? It doesn't matter who it is, but what does matter is that he's the one that you've hurt or abused one time too many, and he's been waiting for just the right moment to pay you back.

And he's got a knife. Yes, that's a knife.

Unlike the Bastard Understudy and The Starscream, this character attacks as a crime of opportunity. There is no danger that he will take over the villain's place in the grand scheme of things. There is, however, a possibility that he will menace the others as a True Final Boss. The backstabber often ends up dead, but this is usually not Redemption Equals Death because their motive is not noble. Innocent victims who turn on the villain typically do it only for revenge, while evil victims prove that they were fine with all of the Big Bad's crimes except the one committed against them.


In short, when a villain has underlings who aren't willing or loyal, there's no reason for them not to pile on when his doom is certain.

The mistreated character can also betray the Big Bad passively by deliberately NOT helping when his wounded and powerless master calls for aid. This can sometimes feature an Ironic Echo if the Mook uses the Big Bad's own Villainous Demotivator lines as the reason he can't step in.

Especially likely for the villain who doesn't give a damn about anyone but themselves.

The Mole and/or Fake Defector may launch similar attacks, for similar motives, but in their case, the attack was planned, or else the plan was to look for such openings. Losing control of a Tyke-Bomb or a Psycho for Hire may result in this as well. Can result from a backfired attempt at Being Tortured Makes You Evil.


One use of this trope is to spare the hero from the burden of personally dispatching the villain, similar to a Disney Villain Death or Bad Guys Do the Dirty Work. The hero may have tipped the balance, but ultimately the villain was brought down by the toxic work environment that he himself created.

Often occurs in the form of Bodyguard Betrayal. For situations where the abused character defects to the hero's side, see Mistreatment-Induced Betrayal. Subtrope of Hoist by His Own Petard and Karmic Death. See also Nice to the Waiter. If the dog biting back does some puppy-kicking of its own, it's He Who Fights Monsters. If it's a pack biting back it's La Résistance, and The Revolution Will Not Be Civilized if they fall into evil themselves. If the hero deliberately leaves the villain at the mercy of his former henchmen, it's Do with Him as You Will. If the villain's original motivation is that the ones he served mistreated him, it's Then Let Me Be Evil or even Woobie, Destroyer of Worlds.

As a Death Trope, more than one Spoiler will be unmarked ahead. Beware.

Example Subpages:

Other Examples:

    open/close all folders 

    Asian Animation 
  • Happens quite literally in the Lamput episode "Doc Dog", where Fat Doc and Slim Doc train a big dog to go after Lamput, which gets distracted when Lamput disguises himself as a female dog. Then the docs try to get his attention by grabbing his love interest, causing Lamput the "dog" to pretend to cry. The big dog gets angry at the docs for messing with his crush and chases after them for it.

    Comic Strips 
  • Most of the humor from Garfield comes from the titular fat cat playing pranks on, or downright abusing, Jon and Odie. To break the monotony, Jim Davis has admitted that from time to time he'll include a strip where Jon, Odie, or both, will pull a fast one on Garfield.
  • Modesty Blaise: Kang, the Big Bad in "Death Symbol", is killed when he stumbles unarmed into the quarters of the Sex Slaves he has been keeping and abusing. A dozen girls dog pile on top of him and smother him to death.
  • One Peanuts story arc had Charlie Brown finally having enough of the Kite-Eating Tree eating his kites and taking a big bite out of the tree. This ended up getting him in trouble with the EPA.


  • So this little guy goes into a bar. There's one seat left at the end, and he takes it. Enter this big, body-building guy who looks like he could bench-press a truck. He walks up to the little guy, and says, "Hey! You're in my seat!" "Sorry, sir," says the little guy, "but I was here first. So unless you have a very good reason—" The big guy goes into a martial arts stance. "Tae Kwon Do from Korea!" the big guy interrupts. And WHAM! He knocks the little guy to the floor, and takes the seat. The next day, the little guy comes into a bar, with his head bandaged. There's one seat left at the end of the bar; he takes it. Enter the big guy, who goes up to the little guy. "Didn't I tell you that's my seat? Kung fu from China!" WHAM! The little guy gets knocked to the floor again. The next day, the little guy doesn't show up. The big guy comes in. There's one seat left at the end of the bar. He takes it; he's happy. Enter the little guy, with his head bandaged and one arm in a sling. He walks up to the big guy, and with his good arm... "Crowbar from Sears!" WHAM!

  • "I Remember Larry," by "Weird Al" Yankovic, is about a cruel prankster whom the narrator eventually gets his revenge on... specifically by breaking into his house and dragging him into the middle of a forest, where Larry is stuffed inside a garbage bag and left for dead.
    • It was a pretty good gag!
  • On "The Opheliac Companion", Emilie Autumn says that the song "Liar" could also be called "What The Fucking Dog Did." See the quotes page for her explanation of this trope.
  • "Goodbye Earl" by the Dixie Chicks is about a woman who gets together with her best friend to kill her abusive husband.
  • "Janie's Got a Gun" by Aerosmith is about a girl who kills her father after years of abuse.
  • "Lily, Rosemary And The Jack Of Hearts" by Bob Dylan.
  • Bruce Springsteen's anti-corporate song "Death to my Hometown" describes the plight of a town left economically ruined by Corrupt Corporate Executives and Morally Bankrupt Bankers. At one point Springsteen exhorts the townspeople to "Blow the robber barons straight to Hell," and at the very end of the song we hear what sounds like guns cocking, then firing, implying they may have taken his advice.
  • Literally in Mason Williams' "The Prince's Panties", in that the "panties" are the prince's dogs, that he mistreats.
  • "No More Pushing Joe Around" by Daniel Johnston seems to be about a man who's fed up with the world and decides to fight back.
    No more pushing Joe around
    No more pushing Joe around
    There'll be no more pushing Joe around
    He's up and punching now
  • "16 Miles" by Ego Likeness is about a woman fleeing across a wilderness after killing her abusive husband.
  • The music video for "Radioactive" by Imagine Dragons shows a girl entering an underground living plush doll fighting ring in order to rescue the band from a dungeon (where the owner of the ring frequently throws the dolls into via a trapdoor). After the girl's pink teddy bear knocks out the undefeated champion and vaporizes a couple of the workers, most of the people flee the ring, the girl takes the key from the owner and throws him into his own trap door. The end of the video has the owner waking up in the middle of a cell, surrounded by plush dolls approaching him. We hear a Big "NO!" as the screen fades to black...
  • "Jenni's Song" by Matthew Good Band tells the story of a girl who "killed her dad with her car." Readers of Good's manifesto "The Night Opus" will recognize Jenni as his real-life ex-girlfriend, who did indeed pin her alcoholic father to his garage wall after years of physical and sexual abuse.

    Pro Wrestling 
  • For years, Virgil has been the mostly silent bodyguard to the Million Dollar Man Ted DiBiase. He did whatever his boss wanted and took scores of abuse both from opponents and DiBiase himself. At the 1991 Royal Rumble, after making a simple mistake hitting his boss by accident, Virgil gets beat down by DiBiase and tossed out of the ring. After the match, DiBiase gets on the mic to demand Virgil come in and wrap his Million Dollar Belt around his boss' waist. Virgil enters with the belt...and drops it at DiBiase's feet. DiBiase snaps at Virgil to do it, reminding him how the man's mother owes so much to this job. As Virgil leans down to get the belt, DiBiase turns to laugh at the crowd...and as he turns around, Virgil leaps up and nails him in the face with the title, causing the crowd to erupt.
  • Decade's goal in Ring of Honor started out as making sure people who walked out on the company but came back were not "rewarded" for it, but this gradually degenerated into breaking "rookies" (basically anyone with less time in pro wrestling than BJ Whitmer, Jimmy Jacobs or Roderick Strong, especially ROH trainees or recent graduates), and in the process they lost the respect of Cedric Alexander, who has been their most persistently encountered resistance.
  • Cody was initially a loyal member of Bullet Club when he was first recruited and even when he was promoted to replace The Star Scream Adam Cole as the ROH World Champion. Cody's own shift into being The Starscream to Kenny Omega came when he caught Omega making unwanted advances towards Cody's wife. Despite his open power grabs in defiance of Omega from that point, Cody has made it clear he does not want to be leader for its own sake but to get rid of Omega specifically. Despite this, the Tongans Guerrillas of Destiny and Bad Luck Fale turned on both Kenny and Cody's Bullet Club splinters, being tired of disfunction the group had been in since Kenny ousted AJ Styles, leading to an Enemy Civil War.
  • In an episode of WWE SmackDown, "Stone Cold" Steve Austin called The Alliance to the ring and assured them that he can still be trusted, despite Vince Mcmahon telling everybody that Austin would betray the Alliance. Reluctantly, the members of the group were obliged to believe him. Except for Tazz. Given how he has been a target for Stone cold's beat downs, Tazz finally tells him that the Alliance doesn't like him, that he's a poor leader and that the Alliance shouldn't trust Austin. He doesn't take the humiliation well and attacks Tazz as a result.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Chronopia: The One King united humanity as the Firstborn, to ensure that they would never be enslaved by the other races again(this includes the elves, the dwarves, and the Blackbloods).
  • In Genius: The Transgression, a Beholden who has been abused enough, or a moral Beholden told to do immoral things, gets to make a check to break free of their condition. A successful check means they're no longer dependent on their master, and are free to take out their anger on him.
  • In My Life with Master, the player characters are the grotesque lackeys of a Mad Scientist, Evil Overlord, or other villain who are trying to work up the nerve to defy (and hopefully kill) their cruel Master.
  • Warhammer 40,000:
    • A crazed Cardinal named Bucharis was a ruthless tyrant who conquered entire systems from the Imperium. When his empire started to fall apart billions of people began to revolt against him, eventually he was cornered and the rebels tore him to pieces with their bare hands.
    • Commissars have the reputation of being trigger happy bastards who keep guardsmen from fleeing by making them fear the Commissar behind them even more. These types of Commissars tend to be shot by their own men, run over with a tank pushed into a deathtrap, left to die or many other unpleasant fates. The only way a commissar can survive long enough to get their peaked cap is by learning to be either properly paranoid, gain their loyalty/respect, or a mixture of both. It's even a rule on the tabletop. A unit that's been taken over by a Commissar after a failed Morale check gets a boost to its Leadership stat, but if it fails another Morale check despite the boost, the Commissar is removed from play. This is meant to represent the Commissar trying to shoot someone to maintain morale only for the rest of the squad to shoot back.
    • In Ork society, the pint-sized Gretchin are treated as little more than gum on the shoe of their bigger, Orky brethren. Unless they undergo a transformation into a Killa Kan. The first thing a good 99% of new Killa Kan pilots do is find their least favorite Ork, and exact some sweet revenge.

  • God bless Emilia of Othello fame, exposing her husband Iago for the scum he is. True, it doesn't turn out well for her, but considering she knew how he would react, she's definitely badass. She even has a smaller one before that, when she tells Iago off for thinking that she'd cheat on him with Othello. Keep in mind that Iago is a paranoid bugger who spends most of the play suspecting everyone of sleeping with his wife. Emilia is the only person who actually realizes and confronts him on this.

    Visual Novels 
  • Danganronpa 2: Goodbye Despair: Hiyoko Saionji spends most of her screentime bullying Mikan Tsumiki (and to a lesser extend Kazuichi Souda). Come the third chapter Hiyoko is found dead and guess who is the killer this time around? Granted this is all downplayed because Mikan kills Hiyoko because she walked in on her murdering Ibuki Mioda and not as a revenge for the bullying, although the method she uses is somewhat karmic: silencing her forever by slashing her throat and then turning the knot of her obi around to the front of her kimono, as that's how prostitutes used to wear them as it made it easier to take them on and off, which is translated as Mikan non-verbally calling Hiyoko a "trashy skank", which was one of Hiyoko's favorite insults for Mikan.
  • In Danganronpa V3: Killing Harmony, one of the Monokubs, Monodam, is said to have closed off his heart to others thanks to Monokid bullying him so much. Guess who the first Monokub is to die and who causes it? More specifically Monodam shoves Monokid into the iron maiden used to snuff out Kaede's lights.
  • Sakura Matou in Fate/stay night. Her target is awesome, she's the love interest here and a good guy. But she seems to enjoy beheading Shinji Matou with pure magic or ripping Zouken Matou out of her heart, gloating and then crushing him a little too much for it to be 'heroic'. Plus the whole 'stealing the show and becoming an apocalypse in the form of a teenage girl' thing. By that point, she's clearly not heroic (the 'killing Shinji' bit is where she ceases to be, even if he deserved it). She's also clearly not herself, and the rest of the route consists of Shirou and (eventually) Rin trying to save her from the darkness that is consuming her.
  • In ClockUp's Fraternite, Shion finally turns the tables on her bullies, which takes place later in the True Ending route.
  • Higurashi: When They Cry:
    • The first victim in Shion's Roaring Rampage of Revenge in the Cotton Drifting and Eye Opening chapters is Onryu, her grandmother. Given the cruel treatment she suffered for much of her life, quite deserved.
    • In the special Dice Killing Arc, Rika finds herself in a world where Satoko isn't her best friend but rather a Spoiled Brat and a bully who likes to make her life miserable. Rika puts up with it for a while, but finally reaches her breaking point and proceeds to beat Satoko with a chair over and over again.
  • Super Danganronpa Another 2: Kanade Otonokoji turns out to have been terrorizing her twin sister Hibiki ever since childhood, murdering everyone Hibiki held dear to have her all to herself, and eventually manipulating her into killing Setsuka Chiebukuro along with her. During the two's joint execution, Hibiki wastes no time braining Kanade with a microphone and attempting to escape in exchange for killing her sister.


Video Example(s):


"By the power vested in me..."

Audrey abuses, bosses and insults Andre on a regular basis; as Malediktator, he turns her into a devoted, loving, over-obedient wife.

How well does it match the trope?

4.71 (14 votes)

Example of:

Main / TheDogBitesBack

Media sources:

Main / TheDogBitesBack