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Unacceptable Targets
aka: Unacceptable Target

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"Some of the papers ran slanderous stories saying the nuns cohabited with the marchers, and I made a bad joke about how I'd come down to get a little of that action, and Harry Belafonte grabbed me by the throat. He was not amused."
Alan King on why you should rethink inviting a stand-up comic to your civil rights march

This is Unacceptable Targets; the flip side of Acceptable Targets, things that simply are not done. Doing so may result in anything from "Dude, Not Funny" to the entire audience staring at you in shocked silence for a split second before breaking out the Torches and Pitchforks. Comedians and critics that gladly cross all the lines will still stop at this one, no matter how bold they are. In short, some things are just unacceptable.


A Black Comedy will demonstrate its meanness (depending on the writers behind it) by mocking these mercilessly; this can cause the cancellation of particular episodes considered too offensive or tasteless. If Unacceptable Targets is somehow made funny, it almost always belongs to the Crosses the Line Twice category. Not to say that there is no such thing as Affectionate Parody. Humor can be constructed in a way that reveres and respects its targets or makes them appear all the more awesome. Still, comedy is a difficult business and sometimes even jokes meant to be respectful can be misinterpreted. As a result, it can sometimes be better to simply not try.

It should be noted that for some (but not all) Unacceptable Targets, it's sometimes considered okay to use them as a vehicle for a joke, as long as the joke is not at their expense. Even so, a comedian will get attacked if the joke is perceived as too mean. (For example, a joke about how Warner Bros. mistreats Watchmen {below} is okay; a joke about the comic itself is not.)


Sacred Cow is a Sub-Trope to this. Contrast with Acceptable Targets. Compare with Even Evil Has Standards, Jesus Was Way Cool, 100% Adoration Rating, The Complainer Is Always Wrong, and Too Soon. Some situations can result in heavy Unfortunate Implications, Double Standards, Positive Discrimination, and Values Dissonance in which The Rival or the counterpart of the Unacceptable Target can become an Acceptable Target.

Can sometimes be difficult to separate from Once Acceptable Targets in cases where the subjects in question were mocked at one time by one people in the dark annals of history. Perhaps a good rule of thumb to distinguish between the two is "Oh, you're mocking the Once Acceptable Target? How behind-the-times you are. I will laugh derisively at you." vs. "You're mocking the Unacceptable Target? YOU MONSTER!!!"



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    People in general 

The deceased in general

See Also: Never Speak Ill of the Dead

It is typically not a good idea to rejoice at a person's death or make fun of a deceased person. This is more so if the person died tragically and/or recently. Even if they were formerly an Acceptable Target, it's best not to say "They deserved it!" or such. While there may be some exceptions, such as those who died via the death penalty, Suicide by Cop, by sheer stupidity (see the Darwin Award, most of the victims on 1000 Ways to Die, etc.), other similar causes, and Adolf Hitler.

Web Original

  • In NetHack, Izchak, the keeper of the lighting shop in Minetown, is never killed, even by the most hardcore mass-genocidal players. He's named after a member of the dev team who died of cancer, and killing him is considered to be very bad form.
  • Averted in YouTube Poop as Billy Mays is one of the most popular sources, perhaps because many poops are made in his honor and a number of poopers stopped creating Billy Mays YTPs after he died.
  • Also averted with Ghost's granny in True Capitalist Radio, who's as much of a chew toy as her grandson. The fact that she's dead is all the more reason for Trolls to make fun of her as a means of triggering one of Ghost's many Berserk Buttons.
  • Averted by the editorial comics on The Onion website. Recently deceased celebrities including George Carlin, James Brown, and even Luciano Pavarotti are depicted in the editorial comic as burning in Hell. Given Carlin's willingness to cross all kinds of lines in his own work, he might have even laughed at that.
    • Considering that the comics are actually a Stealth Parody of right-wing political cartoonists, it can be argued that they are targeting and mocking Carlin and Brown's socially conservative critics rather than the celebrities themselves.
  • One of Cracked's reasons no one laughed at your joke is "It Was About Something They Won't Laugh About, Ever". Examples include "the death of a child or genocide".

Live-Action TV

  • In the infamous "Eulogy Song" from The Chaser's War on Everything, Andrew is cut off by the rest of the team before he can start a verse about Belinda Emmett, an Australian actress who died of breast cancer and had never done anything to warrant anger or ire.
    • The show survived even after the hosts infamously infiltrated an APEC conference. It did not survive the backlash of mocking the Make A Wish Foundation.

Professional Wrestling

  • Owen Hart and Eddie Guerrero are both beloved by WWE fans; if anything relating to them is brought up, the fans will cheer. Even more so with Owen, as WWE exploited Eddie in the months after his death but Owen was left alone for the most part.
  • Subverted by Chris Benoit. As the above example states, wrestlers like Owen Hart, and Eddie Guerrero are looked upon as Unacceptable Targets, but due to the nature of Chris Benoit's transgressions immediately before his passing, it is a very rare example in the Pro Wrestling community to pretty much declare him fair game for all manner of off-color jokes, downright insults, open mocking, and a hearty handful of "See you in Hell"s. If wrestlers like the late Eddie Guerrero are considered the holy angel of all that is untouchable, Chris Benoit is often looked like the exact opposite: the demonic anti-Christ with an "open season" sign around the gravestone. All the more surprising and ironic, today, when considering in life, they were incredibly close friends. Even more ironic when you remember that Guerrero's character spent quite a bit of time as a heel while Benoit was almost never a heel, and also that the real-life Guerrero struggled with drug addiction while the real-life Benoit mostly stayed clean. The difference being that Eddie's death was the cumulative result of years of addiction and not double-murder-suicide. Of course, the WWE's understandable, if ham-fisted, attempts to pretend Benoit never existed may have made references to him that much more tempting to those chanters in the audience who want to mess up a show. However, it is played straight with Nancy and Daniel Benoit.
    • There's an Irish wrestler called B-Cool who has done a spot in matches where he will suddenly scream "oh my God, it's Chris Benoit!" and start singing Benoit's music before climbing to the top rope and delivering a diving headbutt. Did we mention this is done at family shows?


  • Private Eye magazine has repeatedly displayed a rather stunning aversion to this trope, mocking Michael Jackson as a "mad paedophile" in the issue following his death, taking the mickey out of Diana, mocking members of that bobsleigh team that were killed at the Olympics, and satirizing the 9/11 attacks. Sometimes this is awesome, such as an early classic marking the death of apartheid South Africa's prime minister in September 1966. "Verwoerd: A nation mourns" showed a picture of Zulu tribesmen dancing. Sometimes it is less so, and their particularly tasteless ones usually elicit a flood of complaints in the letters section (the magazine crowed a little about their response to 9/11, for instance... but in the 2001 Private Eye annual, their take on the World Trade Center is conspicuously absent). A particularly interesting example was their Diana cover; it received huge criticism, but it wasn't about the princess at all but about the reaction to her death. Hislop would later say that the magazine had said "This is an odd cultural phenomenon, let's talk about it" and the public replied, "We don't want to talk about it, we want to throw flowers and buy Candle in the Wind".

Real Life

  • The circumstances of the death of the person in question is certainly a major factor. It's never OK to say something negative about a person who died of natural causes, but it's considered nowhere near as tasteless as criticizing a person who was Driven to Suicide or killed in a manmade or natural disaster or accident.
  • Generally, homicide victims are more mourned than suicide victims. But this is not always the case. Most notably it was completely inverted in 2012, in which the two most prominent deaths of ordinary teenagers were Travyon Martin in February and Amanda Todd in October. Although Martin was a homicide victim and Todd a suicide victim, Todd was painted a completely sympathetic figure whereas Martin's public image was more divisive. This is because while the latter was a bullying victim who was Driven to Suicide, many people, even though they do mourn for the former as well, believe that his death was an accident by a neighborhood watchman trying to stop a small robbery.
  • The younger the person was when they died, the more "untouchable" their public image is. This is why the Sandy Hook shooting resonated with Americans more than any other in the 21st century (as twenty of its victims were first graders).
  • If the individual in question was well-known enough and was generally respected, mocking any assassinated leader or murdered celebrity is considered very tasteless. Examples: Abraham Lincoln, John F. Kennedy, Robert Kennedy, Martin Luther King Jr., Mohandas Gandhi, Anwar Sadat, John Lennon, Itzhak Rabin, Tupac Shakur, The Notorious B.I.G.. (Oh, and Princess Diana...although she wasn't exactly assassinated. And Nelson Mandela.) That said, it's generally acceptable to mock some of the circumstances around how they died — for example, Lincoln saying "Ugh, somebody shoot me" in regard to how boring the play was will get laughs as well as Statler and Waldorf's appearance on Family Guy.
    • This depends a lot on a person's political affiliation. While many of these are despised by people with, um, troublesome views, Rabin is often criticized on both ends of the political spectrum in Israel: right-wingers think the Oslo treaties were a horrible idea because Arafat and/or the Palestinians, in general, were not a trustworthy partner and leftists criticize him for everything he did before he started the talks and for being an untrustworthy partner himself, and criticism of his policies is becoming gradually (though very slowly) more prevalent.
  • When Richard Nixon died, it temporarily became acceptable only to remember positive aspects of his presidency such as opening relations with Red China. This lasted until some previously unreleased Watergate tapes were discovered, which revealed him to be an even bigger racist Jerk Ass than he had been presented as during the investigation - as well as a hypocrite who said he'd tolerate abortion in the case of mixed-race babies being born.
  • Subverted in the case of Jimmy Savile in England. When he died, he was much respected — particularly for his charity work — until allegations of child molestation and rape emerged about a year later. With possibly hundreds of victims to his name, he's become the best-known real-life example of a Depraved Kids' Show Host; much of Top of the Pops' run and all of the shows he hosted solo have been rendered unairable.
    • Played straight as well, sort of: During his life, there were loads of jokes about him being vaguely creepy. You can't make jokes along those lines now, not out of respect to the dead, but because it would be shockingly tactless to his victims.
  • Any time the Westboro Baptist Church pickets a funeral, the subjects of their protest become this (excluding the Sandy Hook shooting as they were already this even before the protests began). Fred Phelps after he died in 2014 is a subversion.
  • If you live in Brazil, never mock Ayrton Senna or you will be seen as a monster.
  • Once Margaret Thatcher died, plenty of people who felt screwed over by her government started rejoicing, and the press reacted in disgust. (The latter article even compares this attitude to their obituary of much more controversial Hugo Chavez: "To the millions who revered him – a third of the country, according to some polls – a messiah has fallen, and their grief will be visceral. To the millions who detested him as a thug and charlatan, it will be an occasion to bid, vocally or discreetly, good riddance.")
    • On the week of Thatcher's death, the song "Ding Dong The Witch Is Dead" from The Wizard of Oz sky-rocketed to the top of the pop charts in Britain. A campaign to get a pro-Thatcher indie song from the early '80s to the top didn't work out nearly as well.
  • Averted when a well-known figure in infamy such as Adolf Hitler or Osama bin Laden dies. The aforementioned Oz song was played a lot when the latter passed away in 2011.
  • Zig-zagged when Fidel Castro died, many praised him while glossing over the brutality of his regime(most infamously, Canada's Prime Minister Justin Trudeau) while others didn't see that his death meant ignoring the fact that he was a brutal dictator.

Survivors of a tragedy

See Also: Shell-Shocked Veteran

While they didn't exactly die, the above also applies to survivors of a horrific tragedy, perhaps even more so as they're alive to at least do something about the mockery. Considering that they saw many lives die first-hand (including perhaps their friends and family), they won't take it lightly to say the least.

Web Original

  • While Ghost from True Capitalist Radio has disrespected or made fun of almost everything else listed on this page, he does not take kindly to his listener base making fun of the most recent tragedies around the world. He's even less happy about them poking fun of war veterans, especially when it comes to the Vietnam War and his own experiences there.
    • He makes exceptions to this from time to time. For example, he was very critical towards the United States sending aid to Haiti during the January 2010 Haitian earthquake and Puerto Rico during the 2017 Hurricane Maria, believing that people in neither countries weren't suffering at all and in Puerto Rico's case going as far as to claim that this was all part of a secret plot for a communist takeover in the island.
Real Life
  • Such examples include totalitarian dictators with cults of personality and enduring popularity (chiefly Josef Stalin and Mao Zedong), the victims of said popular dictators (including The Holocaust, victims of mass shootings such as Sandy Hook or Columbine, and survivors of terrorist attacks such as 9/11).
    • Taken Up to Eleven in Germany and Austria since the 1980s by making this the law; the Nazi party is banned, the No Swastikas rule is law, and Holocaust denial is illegal.
  • Pretty much any war veteran.
    • When comedian Johnny Walker found out that a fellow comedian had lied about serving in Vietnam, he turned the man into an Acceptable Target in his own routines for the remainder of their two weeks playing comedy clubs (as part of a group). You do not tell Vietnam jokes and pretend you were there. You just don't.
  • This can also include people who suffered through a natural disaster, such as Hurricanes Katrina and Sandy, Typhoon Haiyan, the Haiti earthquake, and the Japan earthquake/tsunami.
  • For more than four hundred years, a lot of Don Quixote fans had hated Alfonso Fernández de Avellaneda, a writer who published a Continuation Fic to the First part of Don Quixote. In the prologue, Avellaneda described Cervantes as a man without friends, and then he wrote: He has more tongue that hands. Cervantes was a Shell-Shocked Veteran of the Battle of Lepanto, where he was wounded in his left arm. Cervantes is also known as The Cripple of Lepanto.
  • After the Boston Marathon Bombings of 2013, the city of Boston adopted the slogan "Boston Strong" to demonstrate the city's resolve in the face of adversity, especially those who had either died (including an 8-year-old boy) or survived it with horrible injuries. So on two occasions when fans of rival sports teams created banners and shirts reading "Toronto Stronger" and "Chicago Stronger", Bostonians were not amused.
    • A reporter for Infowars nearly got assaulted when a crowd recognized him from being from the site. Why? Alex Jones, the main host and owner, had spent a few shows ranting about how the bombing had been a False Flag Operation.
  • Louis CK had an especially cringeworthy example of this where he attempted a comeback at the end of 2018 by mocking the survivors of the Parkland shooting. Survivors of violence? Check. Children as victims? Check. Recent tragedies? Check. Add to this his segment attacking nonbinary identities and he crossed the line twice... four times.

People who have gone into space

Space travel is dangerous, and the requirements to make a career out of going up into space are astronomical. You have to be in peak physical condition, possess high intellect, endure months of specialized training, and the potential for disasters during any launch, mission, etc. can strike in the blink of an eye. The sacrifices throughout the years of astronauts regardless of their nationality are nothing to take lightly. Much like the aforementioned case with the shell-shocked seniors, modern astronauts are around to provide a counterpoint to the mockery, and in some cases will not deal with it for very long.

Tabletop Games

  • In Mage: The Ascension, the Void Engineers, the astronauts, and astronomers of the enemy Technocracy faction, are shown as the least evil and most heroic part of the Technocracy. Source material describes failures faced by real-world space programs as attempts by the rest of the Technocracy to punish them for sharing rocket technology with mundanes.

Web Comics

  • Used in-universe in Dr McNinja, with "Nasaghasts" that ruthlessly hunt down and destroy anyone who threatens or tries to harm an astronaut. Doesn't matter why you do it; if you do something mean to an astronaut, you're going down.

Web Original

  • The Onion's "Congress Forgets How To Pass A Law" video combines this with the above: the one law that even an infamously-divided modern Congress can agree to pass is one authorizing the creation of a memorial statue to the Challenger astronauts. Unfortunately, the title scenario arises...

Real Life

  • Moon landing conspiracy theorists have fallen to the bottom of the conspiracy theory hierarchy in recent years, making the holdouts appear even more detached than the norm. One such theorist, Bart Sibrel, approached Buzz Aldrin and broached the subject. Buzz... respectfully disagreed with his opinion. By which we mean "punched the conspirator in the face." Mr. Sibrel tried to press charges and the judge dismissed the case after seeing the video, ruling it was self-defense, and taking into account that Sibrel wasn't actually injured (just bruised and publicly humiliated).

Military Servicemen and Servicewomen

Watch what you say about the military, especially around loved ones of soldiers and Marines who've died while serving. This is also a specific version of the deceased in general and survivors of a tragedy, considering that it is very likely that they will see people die first hand, not to mention they may even get severely injured or even lose their lives serving. Note that this one is Newer Than They Think: as recently as the Vietnam War it was considered acceptable in some anti-war circles to heap abuse on returning veterans.

Western Animation

  • Addressed and ultimately deconstructed in Bojack Horseman, where a soldier essentially throws an extremely petty hissy fit at Bojack (who admittedly escalated the situation) and society sides with him and acts outraged on his behalf. It's shown that being part of the military most definitely does not make one above morally untouchable.

Real Life

Humanitarian activists, professions and/or anyone who puts their life in jeopardy to help others

Keep in mind, it takes guts for someone to put themselves at risk, and even a foolish one deserves some respect if the goal is to protect someone else. The same goes for humanitarian organizations like Amnesty International, the Red Cross, Unicef, Greenpeace, the World Wildlife Fund, Human Rights Watch, etc., as well as internationally respected humanitarian activists like Mahatma Gandhi, Nelson Mandela, Cesar Chavez, Oskar Schindler, Bob Geldof, Martin Luther King, Rosa Parks, Mother Teresa, Albert Schweitzer, Desmond Tutu, Mikhail Gorbachev, the 14th Dalai Lama,... Cynical people tend to dismiss their actions as square or they only do it to get attention, but the truth of the matter is that they at least try to do something right, spend a lot of time and energy doing so and lead far more admirable lives than most of us.

Real Life

  • There's something astonishing about the fact that Nelson Mandela dedicated most of his adult life to get South Africa rid of a racist and unfair political system, spent 27 years of his life in jail for his ideals and was already more than 70 years old when he was finally released. He accomplished his goal, even became the first black president of South Africa but didn't use his power for revenge. Instead, he forgave all the people who originally looked down upon him and built a new nation where everyone of any race, gender or sexuality can live together.
  • A particularly moving example is Maximilian Kolbe, a Polish priest who was sent to Auschwitz. While he was there, three prisoners escaped and so the SS enforced its standing policy of starving ten prisoners to death for each escapee. One of the thirty chosen begged to spared because of his wife and children, so Kolbe stepped forward and offered to go in his place. The SS troopers agreed. After two weeks he was the only left, albeit barely, and the SS finished him off with a lethal injection to free up the cell. The man whose life was spared not only survived the war but lived well into his nineties, forever grateful for Kolbe's noble deed.
    • Not only did the man live to a ripe old age (Please note that Kolbe's sacrifice happened in August 1941, which meant that he bought the man not just 50 or so years of life, but the honor of becoming one of the few non-Germans who could say he survived the entire war while working in Auschwitz), but he lived to be present at Kolbe's canonization as a Catholic saint in 1982.
  • Firefighters have to risk their lives to put out a fire, especially if someone is trapped inside.
    • In the case of Chernobyl, many firefighters treated the fire of the nuclear power plant as a normal fire until they noticed they were getting sick because they weren’t informed it was Reactor Number 4. You can guess what happened next.
  • While many often criticize them for brutality in some cases, trustworthy police officers put their lives on the line and are often armed for a reason.
  • EMTs and paramedics fall under similar protections, and in some cases criminals who thought they were targeting police officers were horrified to discover they had accidentally attacked the EMTs who were there to help them (not helped by the fact that many EMS uniforms resemble those of police officers without close inspection). In some particularly rough areas they wear bulletproof vests with EMS clearly stamped on the front to avoid this sort of thing.
  • We have an entire page about this: Acts of Kindness.

Administrators and Moderators of a Community

On many websites and message boards, the admins, moderators, and any of their friends are very Unacceptable Targets. For reasons that should be obvious. This really depends on the admins or mods in question but should be assumed true until shown otherwise.


  • Averted on the large Something Awful forums; the mods are just as likely to be made fun of as anyone else is. Part of the mod selection process involves seeing how well the prospective mod takes being ridiculed.
  • makes a specific distinction in the rules between insulting a moderator in a debate (acceptable, the debates are vicious) and insulting a moderator in his official capacity as moderator (unacceptable).
  • On the Nuzlocke Comics Forum, so long as you don't openly attack the mods, you can passive-aggressively disagree with them as much as you like (in fact, mods trying to fight back against such actions will find themselves being smacked down by other mods). Saying something bad about Nuzlocke however is heresy, and even the people that normally butt heads with the mods will chase you out with torches and pitchforks.
  • Notably averted on Derpibooru where it is official policy that the mod team are users first and are mods because they are massive fans and nerds (and in many cases, artists themselves). They spend most of their time actively involved in image posting and discussions, you're free to disagree with or pretty much say whatever you want to them unless it breaks the site's global rules, and genuine accusations of the mod team being nazis or banning people for disagreeing with them will be mocked mercilessly by mods and other users alike.
  • Played with on Spacebattles. As the Staff are also posters there's two sets rules to them. If they're engaging in a thread as a regular user, you can treat them like any other user, including making fun of them within the rules. If they're making official staff actions, there word is sacrosanct and mouthing back is an infraction.

Lèse majesté

In many countries that have royalty, insulting the king, queen, or their family is forbidden by law. In some of these, most people won't actually care much, and you'll get you a fine at most if the authorities notice — but in other countries, such as Morocco and Thailand, doing so will also get the population upset with you, and can end you up in prison for several years. Rarely seen in English-language media because in the UK lèse majesté rivals Footy and Cricket as the national sport. And of course, insulting another nation's royalty is usually fair game (at least when you're not in front of their subjects).


  • In An American Werewolf in London, when David realizes that he'd transformed and killed six people the night before, he tries to get himself arrested so he won't be able to rampage when the full moon rises again. His attempt consists of insults shouted in a public square:
    "Queen Elizabeth is a man! Prince Charles is a faggot! Winston Churchill was bullshit!"

Web Original

  • Averted on a live episode of What the Fuck Is Wrong with You?. When Nash discovered that it was illegal to insult the king of Thailand, he proceeded to say "Fuck the king of Thailand!" multiple times. This led to Tara jokingly denying being associated with him in the video, due to not wanting to be arrested by the king of Thailand (despite living in New York).


Like the above, in many countries and empires that are ruled by a dictator or emperor, saying anything bad about the leader or their family is a huge crime and doing so will definitely lead to very serious repercussions. In Imperial China for instance, even saying the Emperor's real name was a capital crime. Then again, if you're not actually in a dictatorship you're probably safe badmouthing it.

Children in General:

When it comes to age groups, even if the adultism is present, attacks on children are often frowned upon since the capability of defending upset children (or the children defending themselves) is very limited, although it’s a mixed bag when it comes to teenagers.

TV and Film

Real Life

  • Those serving time in prison for crimes against children are often targeted for attacks by other inmates, especially if it’s sexual and/or homicidal. In women's prisons in particular mothers who are there for abusing or harming their own children are consistently at the bottom of the prison pecking order.
  • Children dying and/or have died of a terminal illness and/or disaster are also left alone because of what their families are going through. Children who survived could be suffering from Post-Trauma Stress; so further harm to them is uncalled for. Just ask the Westboro Baptist Church about their funeral protest following the Sandy Hook shooting, where 26 people (eight male, 18 female) died...and six of the female victims were teachers.
  • In May 2017, Fox News contributor Tammy Bruce called a ten-year-old boy a “snowflake” and a “stalker” who needed a “safe space” for insistently (but very politely) asking Vice President Pence for an apology. Pence had very gently bopped him in the face and hadn’t realized it. They were at an event with kids of people in the military and the boy’s face just happened to be level with his hand when he gestured while speaking. Pence hugged the boy and apologized profusely right then and there once he finally got his attention. Bruce was widely condemned for picking on a child like that. Turns out the reason for the kid's persistence in asking for an apology was because he was autistic. His mom, who was obviously none too happy, told CNN's Jake Tapper that since he spends most of his time in therapy working on what to do in social situations, he saw Pence not apologizing immediately as an egregious error. She couldn’t understand why anyone would use a national audience to pick on a kid, autistic or not. She also explained that she was not mad at Pence and in fact thought he had been great with her son. Bruce later apologized which isn’t usually something people on Fox News do but picking on an autistic kid was seen by many as a bridge too far.
  • If you’re going to bully a kid to the point the unthinkable happens, learn from what happened in Florida, even if the charges are reduced or dropped altogether. One does have to give the sheriff acknowledgment, though — he knew when the lines have been crossed, even if it means exposing the identities of those responsible despite being juveniles.
  • This trope isn't universal anywhere and some cultures have no problems about hurting or killing a child. This is justified in many mindsets, especially in ancient ones, when showing mercy towards a child could really backfire against the opponent, especially if the kid turns out to be a Child Soldier, mole, spy, or anything else. The best example of this is the life of Miyamoto Musashi, who was a swordsman since he was a child and was forced to kill many kinds of opponents, including kids. Taking into account the era when he lived, this is justified.
  • You've probably heard "they're just a kid!" as a common reason to dissuade people to sending child celebrities hate.

The Elderly

They've lived a long life and likely had moments where it matters the most. They might have been in the military, so the elderly must be treated with care. Sadly, like child abuse, the abuse of the elderly also exists and someone who knows the elderly will usually take action.

Of course, targeting the elderly could backfire on you — just remember that if you abuse an old man and he does a number on your ass, or abuse an old lady and she does the same.

Persons With Disabilities

It's generally not a good idea to make fun of any sort of disability. If you do, expect anything from Dude, Not Funny! to people wanting to chew you out/kick your butt. Note, however, that persons with disabilities can and do poke fun at themselves (Josh Blue, for instance, has cerebral palsy and gets good laughs at its expense). It's also okay to satirize negative portrayals of disability in order to show that the people who made the original piece are bigots. For example, an Autism Speaks infomercial has gotten this in spades.

Western Animation

  • Despite the fact that South Park makes jokes at characters in the series who have disabilities, it's generally better received because 1. The jokes generally have nothing to do with their disabilities (though it may appear that way when they are first introduced as a grotesque figure with a silly voice), and 2. The only time someone makes fun of a character's disability, they're usually shown to be a Jerkass, with Cartman usually making such jokes. A popular reference is the Tourette's syndrome episode, which shows the disability very realistically, with the only exception being Eric Cartman, which is justified since he's faking it. Another example is Jimmy and Timmy who have become part of the regular cast and weren't treated as gimmicky one-shot joke characters.
  • The root cause of "Derpygate" within the My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic community was due to this. Originally an in-joke by the fandom, the pony originally known as "Derpy" was often portrayed by many bronies as a Cute Clumsy Girl and a good mother to her foal, Dinky, that tries her best despite her vision problems and clumsiness. In Season 2, she made an extended appearance in an episode that ended up being pretty close to that portrayal, with a boyish voice, due to the VA thinking Derpy was male. Viewers considering this offensive to the mentally disabled demanded the character be either UnPersoned or edited to be less ableist. She ended up not making any appearances until Season 4 and was silent and nameless until Season 5 where she was recast and renamed "Muffins".

People who excel at school subjects

Many regions love mocking them to death for being out of touch with society and for having no social life at all, but in other regions insulting them for those reasons is going to get you labeled as someone who is jealous at best and anti-social at worst. This is because in those regions high notes are seen as an important value and a guarantee for later success at life.

Organ and tissue donors

These people have literally given up a piece of themselves so that someone else can stay alive, often someone they don’t even know. Someone like that deserves to be treated with respect and admiration. Especially when you consider that donation is not entirely risk-free and can be a long and painful process for the donor. Even with non-living donors, it's just another reason to Never Speak Ill of the Dead. Special mention goes to regular blood donors, who might save hundreds or even thousands of people in their lifetimes.

    Specific people 

Mister Rogers

Perhaps because of his inspiration to many people across the internet when they were kids, Fred "Mister" Rogers is given this treatment across the internet. Try to make fun of this man and the hive mind will eat you alive. While some people seemed to have drunk Fox's kool-aid and have taken to bashing him after seeing the "report" mentioned below, these people are usually ignored, or receive their comeuppance in the form of a swift ban if a moderator happens to be present.


  • In the late 1980s when Burger King made an ad with a fake Rogers explaining why BK burgers were better than McDonald's burgers, the real Rogers said: "You will stop that immediately!"...and they did. This was mainly because the fake Rogers looked too much like the real him, and he did not want kids to get confused. By comparison, obviously no kid is going to confuse Eddie Murphy (see below) for Rogers, and Murphy's sketch was broadcast safely out of the way of any typical child's viewing time.

Newspaper Comics:

Live-Action TV

  • A rare aversion: Rogers liked Eddie Murphy's parody on Saturday Night Live of his own show ("Mr. Robinson's Neighborhood") since it was an Affectionate Parody, not deliberate and malicious mockery. Apparently, Murphy caught up with Rogers and told him "You understand, we only do it because we love you."


Web Comics

Web Original

  • His Epic Rap Battle with Mr. T is another aversion, despite him swearing and threatening to kill Mr. T at the end. Nevertheless, it is one of the more restrained battles the show produced. The comments on the video pretty much unanimously declare him the winner.
  • Mr Rogers is one of a very very few unacceptable targets on 4chan.

Western Animation

Real Life

  • Fox & Friends cite a university study regarding Rogers and, essentially, say he ruined the children watching by giving them a sense of entitlement. All you need do is read the comments on the video for just how much hatred viewers had for the hosts by the end of it, especially when it became clear that these comments were made to benefit corrupt corporate executives, who believe that if kids be who they want to be, they won't be what the corporate lobby wants them to be: mindless drones in the corporate machine making them money. Unfortunately, there are people who drank Fox's kool-aid, some can be seen lumping Mister Rogers and Bill Nye together and bashing both of them on Facebook when the latter's controversial new show on Netflix came out.
    • It's also impressive that even conservatives who normally agree with Fox News also largely panned the segment, especially Millennial, Gen X, and younger Baby Boomer conservatives who grew up with Mr. Rogers just the same as every liberal kid their age did.
  • There is a popular myth that when Rogers' car was stolen it was reported on the news the same day, and the next day the car was back with a note of apology and a fresh coat of wax. Impressively, even Snopes lists its veracity as "inconclusive".
  • One of the reasons Westboro Baptist Church is so hated is because they're willing to attack Rogers.
  • Mister Rogers and lawyers on his behalf sued the Missouri Knights of the Ku Klux Klan when they used a facsimile of his voice to spread their racist beliefs. Notable in that this is the only time Mister Rogers actually saw red, in his own words.

TV Tropes Wiki

  • In fact, one of the working titles for this trope was "The Mr. Rogers".

Bob Ross

Similar to Mr. Rogers, speaking badly of Bob Ross is a serious no-no. Not only because he is known one of the nicest people to ever live, but also because of the ways he would reach out and include others in his show. There's also the genuine empathy he displayed while on his show (the famous episode where he painted a greyscale mountain landscape for a colorblind viewer being a prime example of this), and his way of speaking, which always did make people genuinely feel welcome for watching the show. Similar to Mr. Rogers, make fun of him at your own risk.

Mustafa Kemal Ataturk

In Turkey, it is illegal to insult the name of Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, who is considered to be the greatest hero of the Turkish people. In other words, this trope is backed by law.

Newspaper Comics:

  • If the above example with Mr. Rogers wasn't bad enough, Stephan Pastis also got in a lot of trouble with a Pearls Before Swine strip featuring a llama named "Ataturk" who solved disputes by spitting on people. He then said that he chose the name simply because he liked the sound of it, not knowing its significance.


Culturally, attacking Muhammad is one of the big no-nos in Islam, like the case with Ataturk in Turkey. Even displaying an image of him is pretty taboo note , since it also runs into the general creed on not depicting people or even animals in some parts of Muslim faith. Notably, however, this doesn't extend to most of the Western world, which has precipitated a load of conflicts recently and usually ends up with the artist in question being threatened with a fatwa proclaiming their death (or actual arson).



  • The irredeemable-even-without-the-offensive-aspects film Innocence of Muslims is basically one long attack on the entire religion of Islam with every last one of the Unfortunate Implications that would imply. One scene in particular, however, gained some Internet notoriety for depicting an unflattering caricature of Muhammad -not only was it responsible for a long string of protests throughout the Middle East, it was also initially blamed for the attacks on the American embassy in Benghazi (although later revelations showed this to be untrue).

Web Original

  • On a list in which people could vote for the greatest people of all time Prophet Muhammad ended up taking the #1 spot. By comparison, Jesus Christ is on the #5 spot and Mustafal Kemal Ataturk is only on #20.

Western Animation

  • South Park has lampooned pretty much everyone and everything on the planet, at one point or another, including the show and the creators themselves. However, they ran into issues when it came to lampooning Muhammad. Parker and Stone went for lampooning the fact that he's not an acceptable target, instead (particularly because five years before the Muhammad taboo was back in the limelight, he had been depicted with no repercussion!). Of course, the second half of their 200th episode two-parter had all mention of Muhammad's name censored by the network, along with the speeches at the end (which didn't even mention Muhammad). Comedy Central went so far as pulling it from ever airing again — they won't even let it be streamed on the show's official website. You can find it here, but its being a TV rip means the bleeps are still in place. The uncensored audio leaked onto the internet in 2014.


Directly attacking or insulting Jesus Christ is considered one of the big no-nos of Christianity. That doesn't mean people refrain from doing it, and it doesn't mean there isn't an entire religion that inverts Christianity out there (there is), but it does mean that doing so is something that will also precipitate a load of conflicts in any society with a large Christian population, especially if said Christians are of The Fundamentalist persuasion or are or are influenced by Moral Guardians.

This is a large reason why Crystal Dragon Jesus and especially Jesus Was Way Cool exist: the former sidesteps (sometimes quite well, other times so sloppily as to create Unfortunate Implications) the idea of a direct attack on Jesus by creating a Jesus expy to be attacked. The latter exists as an attempt to separate Jesus from either the perceived view of Christianity and/or from religion itself.


The trifecta of holy figure no-nos, while badmouthing Buddha will at most get you dirty looks from Buddhist practitioners, some countries do not allow for one to mess around with their deities. This is what got the game Fight of Gods banned in Thailand, shortly after Malaysia banned it for the appearance of both Jesus and Buddha (and the fact that people were calling the developers to add Muhammad to the game).

Video Games

  • As mentioned above, one of the reasons Taiwanese fighter game Fight of Gods got banned in Malaysia and Thailand was because it featured Buddha as a fighter, which the head of the Malaysian Buddhist and Hindu Associations saw as an insult as Buddha is supposed to be a passive deity. Likewise, the king of Thailand himself decreed the ban for the same reason. Strangely, however, the game remains unbanned in India.

Western Animation

  • In the controversial South Park episode "201", the scene where Buddha is depicted snorting cocaine alongside Jesus looking at pornography, showing the double standards of which religious figures are and aren't okay to mock, ironically got the episode and the entire series banned in Sri Lanka.

Bill Nye the Science Guy

Like Mister Rogers, he has inspired many to love science and critical thinking. Go on, try to call him a fraud for debunking conspiracy theories on YouTube. However, his immunity eroded to some people when his latest show, Bill Nye Saves the World, hit Netflix, which caused numerous groups to denounce him for his scientific claims (with varying levels of scientific basis for their own). Nowadays, it's not uncommon to see huge battles on his Facebook pages between his fans and these groups.

The Emperor and the Imperial Family of Japan

See Also: He Who Must Not Be Seen

The Japanese Imperial Family deserves a special mention here, compared with the Lèse majesté crimes mentioned above. Japanese media (and the Japanese themselves) don't have any qualms about making fun or name-dropping any historical figure, including Prime Ministers, for the sake of it. On the other hand, the Emperor and his family (and even fictional versions of him and his position) are off-limits in any way. Mentioning him in non-historical, non-educative and non-informative backgrounds is considered one of the biggest taboos in Japan, not to mention even making fun of him.

This is the reason why in many historical Japanese media he's excluded from being mentioned, even when he should be historically relevant for the plot. Normally he's replaced by another authority figure instead, like a Prime Minister or, when dealing with the Sengoku Era, with any daimyo or shogun.

Anime & Manga

  • This is pretty egregious in Rurouni Kenshin, since, despite the whole setting of the story is due thanks to an Emperor (the Meiji one, especially) and Kenshin was fighting (technically) for his sake, he's never mentioned anywhere, while the Tokugawas, the ones whose Kenshin was fighting against them when he was the Battousai, are mentioned instead.

Video Games

  • Oddly averted in AkaSeka where one of the love interest options is Sada'akira. His historical counterpart is also known as Emperor Yōzei.

Western Animation

  • This is the reason why the episode "Thirty Minutes Over Tokyo" from The Simpsons was banned in Japan, as the Emperor not only appears in the episode but is mocked, specifically when Homer throws him into a pile of soiled sumo thongs.

Real Life:

  • Dignitaries from many countries attended the state funeral of Emperor Hirohito, Japan's wartime emperor, on February 24th, 1989. Queen Elizabeth II of Britain made a diplomatic excuse as to why she could not attend and deliberately sent her husband Prince Philip to represent Britain. Philip is known for his controversial remarks and non-politically-correct attitudes. He is also a veteran of WW2 and is president of many ex-servicemens' associations, including one for survivors of Japanese prison camps. When the coffin of the Emperor passed the foreign dignitaries and many were bowing so far they were prostrating themselves, Philip very deliberately made the barest, most absolutely minimal, inclination of the head that could have been taken for a formal bow of respect. note  The Queen declining her invitation, and instead sending a husband known to despise the Japanese wartime generation, and that perfunctory disrespect to the deceased, caused a minor diplomatic rupture. But it was almost as if everything had been carefully thought out in advance to deliver an unmistakable two-fingered gesture to the wartime Japanese leadership, from the daughter of the wartime British King... the Japanese were insulted. The British laughed.

LeVar Burton

Like Mister Rogers and Bill Nye above, it is considered to be extremely bad taste to mock LeVar Burton. He is widely regarded as the figurehead of literacy in the United States, inspiring a love of reading and science through Reading Rainbow. This is especially true after PBS completely cut funding for the program back in 2009. What of WNED, That TV station that took him to court so they could take the Reading Rainbow brand back and succeeded, claiming that LeVar had mistakenly thought that he had bought the rights to the series? Many of his fans speculate that station will be producing a flop and LeVar will not be affected that badly. As of March 2018, LeVar's project just had to undergo a minor rebrand. On the other hand, time will tell if WNED's actions would get them into Internet Backdraft crossfire, with several tropers commenting that WNED are not only despicable, but are asking for trouble, loudly reiterating that PBS stations get funding from pledges and that they may not pledge to the station the next time, and oh, there has been no announcement of the alleged “reboot” WNED claimed to be developing since August 2017.

Stefán Karl Stefánsson

Stefan Karl, the actor who played Robbie Rotten from the show LazyTown, became an unacceptable target after he was diagnosed with cancer back in October 2016, and even more so after his death in August 2018 from it, to the point where you are seen as a Complete Monster if you mock his death or disrespect it, or at least get a massive Dude, Not Funny! reaction from the people around you.

Steve Irwin

On 22 February, 2019, Google celebrated Steve Irwin's posthumous 57th birthday with a Google Doodle. People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, a favorite Snark Bait of many, responded with a tweet, condemning Irwin for using animals for "abusive entertainment", such as "harassing a ray, dangling his baby while feeding a crocodile, and wrestling wild animals who were minding their own business", and Google for promoting his message. The response was not in PETA's favour.


Works and Creators of any work that is considered as "True Art"

See Also: It's Popular, Now It Sucks!, True Art, Sacred Cow, Critical Dissonance, and Public Medium Ignorance.

An example of this when it comes to media instead of people: Whenever and wherever the It's Popular, Now It Sucks! trope is in effect, any media that fits any of the True Art categories; as well as their creators, are granted immunity to any form of criticism in any way in these areas. In other words, these are works which are met with near universal approval and are outside the bounds of criticism for some even if flaws are present. Covering anything from a whole series down to props within that universe, these works are considered so either out of respect, nostalgia, or plain fan love.

Unfortunately, this also means a fair critique cannot be made against it at any point in time as it'll be met with the same revulsion as Squick-inducing shipping or trolling. Furthermore, many of these works tend to get a free pass when it comes to flaws that popular works would be slammed if they didn't bear such a pass. An unfortunate amount of Fan Dumb, Fandom Heresy, Hypocritical Fandom, Nostalgia Filter, and The Law of Fan Jackassery tend to come from this.

Anime and Manga

  • Any series that has major Deconstruction elements tend to be this. Most forums discussing those kinds of works are lacking criticism because they're off-limits from such things for some reasons. Note that it's usually the darker ones that are untouchable; lighter deconstructions and Deconstructive Parodies, however, are usually fare game.
  • Shows with antagonistic knife-toting Yanderes receive a similar treatment as well, especially if said characters are glorified in the fandom, no matter how unjustified their actions are. Do you hate them and wanted to find anyone on the internet who shares your sentiment? Good luck.
  • Azumanga Daioh, for the same reason as Yotsuba&! below. The English dub of the anime adaptation, though, is a free game, as it straddles a fine line between passable and downright annoying.
  • On the websites of MAHQ, Anime Suki, and Anime News Network you are not allowed to criticize Mobile Suit Gundam 0080 Warin The Pocket, ∀ Gundam, or Mobile Suit Gundam: Iron-Blooded Orphans. Upon doing so you are labeled a troll and often banned regardless of how on topic and civil you are. /m/ took notice and the Gundam fandom broke into pieces. When ANN was hacked in August 2017, /a/ joked it might have been /m/ considering their deep resentment for reviews of not just Gundam, but Mecha Anime reviews on the whole.
  • There's a lot of places on the internet where criticizing or heaven forbid making fun (outside of Dragon Ball Z Abridged, which is an Affectionate Parody) of Dragon Ball Z will get your head ripped off. It was a massive part of so many people's childhoods, just don't go there. This only applies to the original manga and the first two anime series, as it is common practice among fans to pretend Dragon Ball GT doesn't exist and Dragon Ball Super has some base-breaking plot elements.
  • In Japan, the king of this trope is the resident Kodomomuke icon Anpanman. It's fine to parody the show or send a couple of jokes its way, but outright mocking it is a major no-no for writers, since nearly every kid in Japan practically grew up watching it. Case in point: when Osomatsu-san did a parody of the show and had its Anpanman analogue act creepy and lowkey perverted, the episode was removed from airplay and all of the segments featuring it were cut from the show's DVD release. The fact that one of the members on the television board was a fan of Anpanman just shows how far the show reaches.
  • Doraemon comes in at a close second in terms of untouchable shows, though it has slightly more leeway with its parodies. See how quickly the pornographic spoof Nozoemon got cancelled as an example.

Comic Books

  • The comic community site Scans Daily seems to have a rule of "The more mainstream it is, the more critical we are." High-profile works, in particular, seem to be prone to get picked apart, while lesser-known comics are considered off-limits to criticism.
  • Watchmen: You don't insult it if you enjoy having skin.

Fan Fiction

  • It's debatable if the exploitation of the child-like Kokiri in Zelda's Honor was a necessary evil for the villains to proceed with their plans. Some of the abuse can be quite shocking; to a point where a few reviewers/readers weren't even sure they could continue reading the fanfic.


  • It's really (and with good reason) rare to see criticism of works by acclaimed directors like Jean-Luc Godard, François Truffaut, Federico Fellini, Ingmar Bergman, Michelangelo Antonioni, Andrei Tarkovsky, Agnès Varda, Roberto Rossellini, Yasujiro Ozu, Kenji Mizoguchi, Satyajit Ray, Akira Kurosawa, the majority of Italian Neorealism, French New Wave (and Japanese New Wave, Czechoslovak New Wave, New German Cinema, Fifth and Sixth Generation of Chinese Cinema, etc) and other respected auteurs. Whenever criticism does occur it's usually by people who don't watch these kind of films in the first place and therefore they aren't taken seriously anyway.
  • No matter what your opinions of the later films, the first Back to the Future film is beyond reproach.
    • Same thing with the original Star Wars trilogy. (though the George Lucas Special Edition versions tend to be the target of mockery, the films as a whole are this trope)
  • Monty Python and the Holy Grail has this reputation too. Merely daring to suggest that is not that funny or perhaps not the best Python film or product around will anger a lot of people who will diss you for not having a sense of humor or not being smart enough to get it. Especially the latter comment is quite odd, because most fans of Holy Grail only repeat the most accessible jokes, like the coconuts gag and the Black Knight, for instance.
  • A lot of Soviet movies/animation get this treatment, accompanied by Nostalgia Filter. Don't even try to question the morals behind movies or consider them outdated. Also don't even try to suggest the possibility that a comedian funnier than the Nikulin-Vitsyn-Margunov trio may exist, just don't. That being said, post-Soviet-Union movies/animation in Russia is very much an Acceptable Target, especially Russian Hollywood.
  • The Toy Story fandom is full of people who will rip you to shreds for daring to say that you're not a fan. Sure, it was a huge part of many people's childhoods... but if it wasn't a big part of yours, an army of Toy Story fans will tell you you're objectively wrong for liking whatever fandom you liked more as a child. Not everyone was the perfect age to grow up with Andy when the movies were originally released, and the fans that were can't seem to acknowledge that the movies, especially the third, don't have quite the same emotional impact if you don't see yourself in Andy.
  • Claiming that Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse is anything less than a masterpiece in front of any hardcore animation fan is a death sentence.

Live-Action TV

  • Examples of these include Top Gear.
  • If you're within the hearing range of a Browncoat, do not insult Firefly. Actually, just don't insult any of Joss Whedon's works, except for maybe Alien Resurrection and the Buffy movie (the crappiness of which was caused by Executive Meddling).
    • Avengers: Age of Ultron is perhaps the most notable exception, and it and the discovery of his hypocrisy by cheating on his wife seems to have weakened a lot of Whedon fans' determination to defend most of his other works as well, though Firefly is still considered largely untouchable.
  • American television in general, at least to people who are not American. Expressing your distaste for it can cause lots of Netflix lovers to come at you and blame you for being so rose-tinted about your crappy culture and insulting something that is inherently better.
  • The Wiggles, mainly the original quartet of Greg, Murray, Anthony and Jeff, might as well be considered the Australian equivalent to the Mister Rogers example, as insulting or mocking them within earshot of their fans, their Periphery Demographic, or pretty much anyone who grew up watching or listening to their material, is definitely a bad idea.


  • Any novel or series acknowledged as a classic. Pointing out flaws in the work is almost always acceptable (though you can expect Internet Backdraft), but dismissing the entire thing as garbage usually provokes universal outrage.
    • For example, if you mock The Lord of the Rings, hordes of angry Tolkien fans will be on your case.
    • This does vary somewhat book to book, as a lot of the School Study Media books have a divisiveness — you either loved the book and embraced it whole-heartedly, or you loathed having it shoved down your throat getting poor grades on book reports.
  • Religious scriptures, in general, are also this; bashing the scriptures is considered equal to bashing their associated religion and will net you universal outrage.
  • Harry Potter receives this treatment as well, because of how big a part it was of a lot of people's childhoods. This only extends to the seven books in the main series. Refusing to acknowledge the extended canon on Pottermore is acceptable, criticizing the movies is a widespread practice, and Harry Potter and the Cursed Child is a Contested Sequel.


  • Anything listed as a "Classic" or "oldies" tends to fall into this as time marches on. If you actually say you don't like bands such as The Beatles today and aren't very old, you will be treated as a heretic.
  • If a musician died young, it's usually a bad idea to criticize their music (see also: Dead Artists Are Better) because people who do like them will treat you like you just sprouted horns and a tail. God help you if you say in public that you don't care for music made by John Lennon, Jim Morrison, Freddie Mercury, Kurt Cobain, Jimi Hendrix, Michael Jackson, Amy Winehouse, or countless other dead musicians.


  • The macOS (or anything made by Apple, for that matter) got this treatment back in the day in that any sort of criticism of the Mac (or simply preferring Windows over Mac) is bound to get you burned to a crisp. This is less frequent today due to the resurgence of Apple, as well as some of the controversies Apple has been involved in as a new-found Mega-Corp and all, but you can still find some very defensive fans in some areas.
  • Depending on where you are, don't trash Linux. You would be accused of "supporting the evil Micro$oft empire" (although you can also say the same for macOS). Exceptions may be granted if you choose instead to bag on a particular Linux distribution, though, or if you're criticizing Linux as a user of one of the BSDs. Though this has since died down as people bag on the ridiculous stance Richard Stallman has against commercial and proprietary software.


  • LEGO. Popular with children, even more so with teenagers and adults, badmouthing it is a terrible idea in almost any situation.
    • Unless you are a single adult lamenting the recent corporate decision to ban people who do not have children accompanying them from being allowed to enter certain Lego theme parks except on particular weekday evenings (who has time to go to Legoland on Wednesday evenings when they have to work the next day?!? Especially if the nearest Legoland is a hundred miles away?!? Even worse is that they are not allowed on any of the rides at all during these visits). Some groups of fans are not buying Lego’s claim that it is to stop paedophiles from entering the park and kidnapping kids- there are less bothersome ways to prevent kidnappings, and they believe that Lego put up the rule to ridicule their bad luck with love or their lifestyle choice of remaining single.
    • Even more so for BIONICLE, which is usually credited with saving LEGO during the early 2000s, along with their LEGO Star Wars line, is enriched with a complex Myth Arc and lots and lots of supplementary material, including but not limited to comics, novels, and Direct-To-DVD Films, which not only sets it apart from other Merchandise-Driven franchises, but also other LEGO lines. To sum it up; BIONICLE is an Unacceptable Target inside of an Unacceptable Target (LEGO).


Video Games

  • EVERY video game will have its fans. Unless it originally gained its badness from its own gameplay and composed faults alone when it was first released, any game that ranks at minimum a C- average or even a D+ in terms of quality via general consensus will guarantee rapid fire mouthing from anyone who played it and enjoyed it. This backlash also especially corresponds to games of prior generations, which is neither tolerated on this subject. note 
  • Examples of PC games include System Shock 2, The Elder Scrolls (but only Daggerfall as well as Morrowind in some areas, as well as Skyrim in a few), not to mention the first two games in the Fallout series (which was recently expanded to include Fallout 3 and Fallout: New Vegas, Baldur's Gate, Planescape: Torment, StarCraft (the first one especially), Warhammer, Shadowrun or Old World of Darkness anything, Cave Story, Torchlight, anything that's "indie", and anything made by Valve Software (especially Half-Life and Portal, with the possible exception of Ricochet).
    • Not always so — if the reviewer takes the time to establish themselves as being very reasonable early on, is polite, posts in a community not infested by rabid fans, and uses solid logic in writing up their review, then it's entirely possible for even a highly critical review of Half-Life 2 to be received with civility.
    • Though ever since 2015 it's been subverted and Valve essentially became a valid acceptable target, what with the "paid mods", continuous reliance on community to provide content instead of bringing content by themselves, ditching support of older games, weapon skins and crates, the report that nobody in Valve interested or even planning to develop single-player games, several key members including chief writer Marc Laidlaw left Valve, and the nadir point, the announcement of Artifact, a card game based of DOTA, the first time Valve receives more dislikes than likes based on the announcement videos alone. Additionally, their decision to discontinue accepting PayPal payments in Asia due to partnership with e-Club Singapore also angered a sizable amount of South-East Asians. And then there's Gabe proclaiming he's a brony, also setting off a "Ruined Forever!" among a sizable group of people who dislike them.
    • However, Fallout’s immunity appears to have eroded with Fallout 4 (with legendary console modder and pinball aficionado Ben Heck criticizing some of the game's mechanics and received zero backlash whatsoever), and the MMORPG that is Fallout 76 appears to be fair game given the sheer number of criticisms it received)
    • To wit, anything that's Indie, any review that's critical of the game at all or even saying it's anything but the absolute best thing ever made is usually downrated into oblivion, anyone who dares say they even find some things wrong with it will usually be written off as a hater or a mindless Call of Duty fan (to use the most polite term). Even Total Biscuit, who dares say anything bad about indie titles, usually gets thousands of comments on his videos insulting him for not finding something to be True Art, and comments agreeing with even one point that Total Biscuit makes are downvoted and considered "Spam". Not that he cares, seeing as they give him just as many views as people who legitimately agree with him.
  • Online gaming-wise, a good way to find out if a game or service is given the "Immunity To Criticism" label is how the service is received when it comes to discussions about G.I.F.T.. If you mention popular or non-sacred works such as Counter-Strike, Quake, World of Warcraft, or anything on Xbox Live in such topics, bombardments of complaints will occur which basically summarize down to "The game/service should be killed with fire and everyone that plays it should be beaten mercilessly. And i don't care if the griefers are a Vocal Minority." However, if you did to same to a game or service that is given Sacred Cow status, say Team Fortress 2, or the Playstation Network service (though some of the more popular PSN titles like Call of Duty are exceptions to the rule), it will either fall on deaf ears and/or you will be bombarded with No True Scotsman type fallacies that the service or game is immune to this.
  • The quickest way a gaming critic or gamer can kill their street cred is to trash PC Gaming, or even say you enjoy consoles better. That said, the term "PC master race" tends to get thrown around a lot by people on both sides who should be aware of the implications of the phrase "master race".
  • The MOTHER series (especially MOTHER 3), and for that matter anything made by Shigesato Itoi, is beyond criticism. Detractors will face the wrath of the community, /v/, Nintendo fans, and the fans of all three of The Runaway Guys.
    • Interestingly enough, Mother 3 is actually looked at with a generally very negative fan sentiment from its home country, as explained halfway through this Q&A article from EarthboundCentral — perhaps, in America, due in large part to being officially unreleased, and the massive work of the fan-translation project several years later, Mother 3 is seen as a Sacred Cow and Unacceptable Target in the West...but in Japan, that particular installment is ridiculed, bashed, and hated on the Japanese internet. Often. With many Japanese fans even considering Itoi to be "a washed-up old hack". Quite a strange example of region-specific aversion in the case of Mother 3. However, of course, Mother 2/Earthbound is still very much true to this trope no matter which side of the Pacific you reside on, as is MOTHER to a lesser extent...unless you want to mock the extreme difficulty of the first game, particularly the final area or if you are Dr. Sparkle (He noted that it were mainly the pop culture elements that made the game unique and that it would otherwise have been a generic RPG and that the game had lots of flaws. He still said that it was the one of the two best games of the episodes (tied up with Splatterhouse: Wanpaku Graffiti)).
  • Generally speaking, you might be able to get away with claiming that The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time is overrated, outdated by modern standards, surpassed by its own successors, or simply not your cup of tea. If, however, you attempt to dismiss it as being bad you'll immediately be ridiculed as an ignorant Philistine at best, or flamed to within an inch of your metaphorical life at worst. Egoraptor lampshaded this in his Sequelitis episode.
    Egoraptor: I am harshly criticizing Ocarina of Time on the internet! I'm gonna get crucified!
  • In the Pokémon fandom, games qualify as this if they meet two criteria: they must have a huge amount of Post-End Game Content, and must be from an era that the fandom of the time remembers fondly. These include Pokémon Gold and Silver and their remakes, Pokémon Emerald, Pokémon Platinum, and Pokémon Black 2 and White 2, the latter of which are the most rabidly defended and praised on /vp/. Meanwhile, in more mainstream circles, the original 151 (especially Charizard) and Pokémon Red and Blue in general are treated as this.
    • The Pokemon Red and Blue part is largely gone from the fandom now, as a result of the 20th anniversary digital editions on 3DS of Pokemon Red, Blue and Yellow. A large part of the fandom started after the Advance generation, and has now played Red/Blue/Yellow on the digital edition for 3DS, it's a lot easier to get away with saying the first generation sucks.
  • The Call of Duty series had once received this treatment, especially when it really started to compete with the Halo series for the most popular FPS crown. When Modern Warfare came out, calling it anything but the "Halo killer" would instantly kill your street cred at the very least. Not long after, though, controversies involving future iterations of the franchise by Activision along with its boom in popularity would eventually kick them out of sacred cow status. Nowadays if you say anything positive about Call of Duty, you'll be lucky if you aren't murdered in your sleep, and ironically even Halo is treated more of a sacred cow in comparison nowadays.
  • Say you didn't play Psychonauts and no one will think twice, it being a relatively obscure Cult Classic. Say you played it and didn't care for it, on the other hand....
  • Bashing Undertale will get you drawn and quartered by its huge, vocal, and devoted fanbase. Even if you give an honest but negative opinion on it you'd better disable comments and still brace for impact.
    • That being said, this is something of a subversion. While Undertale fans are indeed very vocal about defending their game, there also exists an equally large and vocal Hatedom that is ready to bash the game every chance they get.
  • Despite negative stereotypes among common gamers concerning free-to-play games, even the most staunch critics of Free-to-play games such as Yong Yea or Jim Sterling praised Warframe as an example of Free-to-play game done right, with surprisingly reasonable amount of monetization versus the unusually high production value of the game. Any negative criticism toward Warframe will be usually ignored or pushed aside.

TV Tropes Wiki

  • Let's just say that this tends to be a creed by some Tropers here.


ANONYMOUS and their affiliated websites (4chan, Encyclopedia Dramatica, etc.) have a nearly unlimited list of Acceptable Targets...yet even in their circles they have Unacceptable Targets, one of which is the title character of Yotsuba&!. You do not ask for Rule 34 of Yotsuba; they will destroy you. Without regret.

Web Original

  • Some people have gone out of their way to make exceptions involving aged-up versions of the characters. One such instance was the Comiket doujin "Four Leaf Lover". Yotsuba and her friends go on an innocent group date with non-Japanese men, get drunk, and have dub-con sex. They become drug-addicted sex toys. It was apparently requested and translated by 4chan /d/ members. That's /d/ for you. That said, when the same people made an (even worse) sequel, Anonymous turned its wrath on them.
  • On one Rule 34 site, clicking the Yotsuba tag takes you to the site's full list. In other words, if you look for porn of Yotsuba, you'll get everything but.

TV Tropes Wiki

  • In fact, one of the working titles for this trope was "Yotsuba Is Off Limits".

National Anthems

There is no faster way to get an entire nation angry at you than to mock their national anthem. Even mocking your own is venturing into dangerous territory. Sports fans cross this line at their own peril.

Real Life

  • Kind of averted in Australia where quite a considerable number of people think the national anthem, 'Advance Australia Fair', is a terrible piece of insipid, dull and incomprehensible crap and wish they had a better one (see the section on 'Criticism').
  • Zig-zagged with O Canada in light of its recent lyric change from "In all our sons command" to "In all of us command". Opponents of the change will call it Political Correctness Gone Mad while supporters will condemn opponents for being sexist. Ironically, the revised line is actually closer to the original English text, which read "Thou dost in us command".


Depicting a flag upside down

Another quick way to anger an entire nation is to depict their flag upside down (except as a distress signal). Bonus points if the flag is a simple striped one and rotating it 180 degrees results in a flag of a different country.


  • Malaysia learned that the hard way when depicting the flag of neighbor Indonesia upside-down during the telecast of the 2017 SEA Games. Showing the flag of Poland and calling it the flag of Indonesia was a quick way to get several websites in Malaysia DDoSed by patriotic hackers...



Pets are frequently likened to human children, and most people would never think of harming them. Even playing animal abuse for laughs is an easy way to arouse fury from viewers; actually harming these creatures will incur their wrath.

Web Original

  • One of The Mysterious Mr. Enter's biggest Berserk Buttons is animal abuse, especially when it's Played for Laughs. Any animated work that attempts this is almost guaranteed to be branded an Animated Atrocity (with the SpongeBob episodes mentioned below being a textbook example).
  • Once again averted in True Capitalist Radio. A broadcast of the show was interrupted when Ghost's dog, Templeton, chewed on the wires and electrocuted himself. While Templeton didn't receive any injuries, the trolls were sure to exploit this so Ghost would have another thing to be upset about.

Western Animation

Real Life

  • Just ask Kenny Glenn, who posted a video of himself and a friend abusing a cat on YouTube; after a link to the video was posted on /b/, he was identified mere hours later by /b/tards who compared the video to photos on several social networking profiles to find out his name and location, reported him to his local police and got him and his friend arrested on animal abuse charges — all in that same week. If you thought Kenny got it bad, Cheyenne Cherry got it even worse.
  • Never ever post videos of throwing puppies into a river. /b/ and Michael Bay will find you.
  • Clint Eastwood is a known lover of animals, and he and his wife keep several animals that they've rescued on their ranch, and Mr. Eastwood loves talking about how much he loves them, and how much he despises people who abuse animals. So put it this way: if you abuse animals, Clint Eastwood — Dirty Harry himself — will find you and punish you.
  • Perhaps shown best by the video of a British woman putting a cat in a bin which was shown on multiple news networks throughout the world. She was hunted down by the papers demanding to know why she had done it (no reason, as it turns out). She had to have police protection to keep the crowd that formed outside her house civil. In the end, she was banned from keeping animals for five years, fined required to pay to the victim (the owner of the cat, not the cat itself), and had to give up her job at a supermarket.
  • In 2003, Clay Aiken was on his way to a promising radio career. Then he did an article stating his dislike for these purry creatures, and his career sank to the point where he had to go Broadway.
  • If one were to think in the line of pets as being nothing but cats and dogs the stereotype would be subverted in Northern and Southern Sudan, at least if the book The Mask of Afrika would have been an accurate portrayal of the phenomenon. In it, the main characters talk about a scene that took place in Southern Sudan in which she was talking to different people who were discussing what would be the best strategy to kill cats so that they could be served for dinner. She also noted that cats were eaten in the south since in the northern territory they prefer eating dogs (affectionately called Red Wolf). It seems however that the president does not share in their eating habits since he actually does have pets. Let us just say that the author was happy that the president did not do that.
  • Abusing cats is a major Berserk Button for 4Chan as a whole. Commit this sin to them, and they WILL stalk you and make you pay dearly.

Once Acceptable Targets

Some Once Acceptable Targets can also be Unacceptable Targets at times, although not always.

Really, anyone (and anything) in some places

See also: Rule of Cautious Editing Judgement, Berserk Button, and Ban on Politics

In some groups, it's not a good idea to mock the things or persons that they like or think that it is good. In other places, this might be okay, although not everywhere considering that many don't want to deal with the Fan Dumb, Hate Dumb, or any Internet Backdraft involving the mockery. For example, any religious and political views and individuals are repeatedly mocked, but you should never mock them if they're the majority of a group. In an anime-related forum or circle, it's best not to invoke Animation Age Ghetto or proclaim hatred to anime by itself. And so on.

Alternative Title(s): Unacceptable Target


Example of: