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Verbal Salt in the Wound

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Sometimes, inquiring after someone's health can be the nastiest thing you can do under the circumstances.

Here, an insulter does their best to get under someone's skin by mentioning, asking or joking about an injury suffered by the victim in the past; the more traumatic the injury, the better. A not uncommon variant of this involves the insulter asking about the wound in a faux-concerned tone of voice, usually in the form of "how's the (insert wounded organ here)?" though numerous permutations of it exist across fiction and reality.

For good measure, it's also very common for this kind of insult to be used by the individual who inflicted the injury in the first place, though it can be used by anyone aware of the damage and eager to rub salt into it.

Needless to say, this kind of insult is most commonly a Kick the Dog moment only used by the harshest types of characters, from mere Jerkass-types poking at sensitive subjects to flat-out psychopaths gloating over past victims. Even if the insulter isn't actually a villain, expect them to fall under the heading of an Anti-Hero at best.

May involve the use of a Trauma Button.

Compare Innocently Insensitive, when the insulter genuinely didn't mean to offend the victim. Can overlap with Named After the Injury if they give them an Embarrassing Nickname.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • Todoroki from My Hero Academia makes a sardonic remark to remind his father that he will now have a permanent scar awfully similar to his.
    Todoroki: That's a bad scar. [loudly slurps soba while staring at him]

    Films — Live Action 
  • Ant-Man: When Hank Pym sees Mitchell Carson, he mockingly asks him "How is your face?", since he broke his nose years ago.
  • Comparatively early in Gangs of New York, Johnny and Jimmy surprise Amsterdam while he's retrieving his father's possessions from the tunnels, resulting in a confrontation in which Jimmy gets sucker-punched in the nose. The two later meet again when the rest of Johnny's gang convene to welcome Amsterdam into their ranks; Amsterdam eyes Jimmy and snidely asks "how's the beak?"
  • Goodfellas features Tommy losing his temper with bartender Spider over a minor misunderstanding and shooting him in the foot. At their next card game, Spider turns up with his foot in a cast, and Tommy immediately starts trolling him over the foot - eventually leading to Spider telling Tommy to go fuck himself and Tommy gunning down the bartender in a fit of rage.
  • During her reintroduction at Pescadero Mental Hospital in Terminator 2: Judgment Day, a crazed-looking Sarah Connor mockingly asks Dr Silberman "how's the knee?" As it turns out, she stabbed Silberman in the kneecap with his own pen not long ago.
  • Wild Wild West has a rare instance of a heroic character doing this to a villain; Evil Cripple Dr. Arliss Loveless lost his lower body fighting for the Confederacy during the American Civil War and spends the film reliant on a wheelchair. When he makes racist jibes about Jim West's skin color, West counters with a series of jibes mocking Loveless' predicament:
    Loveless: Mr West... how nice of you to join us tonight and add... color to these monochromatic proceedings.
    West: Well, when a fella comes back from the dead, I find that an occasion to stand up, be counted.
    Loveless: Miss East informs me you're expecting to see General McGrath here. Well, I knew him years ago but I haven't seen him in a coon's age.
    West: Well, I can see how it'd be difficult for a man of your stature to keep in touch with even half the people you know.
    Loveless: Perhaps the lovely Miss East will keep you from being a slave to your disappointment.
    West: You know beautiful women, they encourage you one minute, cut the legs out from under you the next.
  • The World Is Not Enough: James Bond receives a shoulder injury in one early scene. Later, he finds himself at the mercy of Renard, who grabs Bond by the injured area while telling him "I knew you couldn't shoulder the responsibility."
  • Late in X-Men, Magneto uses Rogue to power his mutation-inducing Doomsday Device, and though she survives (barely), she's left with a permanent white streak in her hair. When the X-Men and the Brotherhood are forced to team up against Stryker in X2: X-Men United, Rogue quickly notices that she's being laughed at by Mystique and Magneto, who remarks "we love what you've done with your hair." Rogue goes so far as to remove one of her gloves before Iceman ushers her away.

  • The Milkweed Triptych: In Bitter Seeds, Will Beauclerk is forced to slice off one of his fingers in order to appease an Eidolon while the captive Nazi Mad Oracle Gretel looks on. When the two of them meet again in The Coldest War, Gretel gleefully needles Will over the event and its disastrous aftermath by asking "has your finger healed yet?"
  • Late in Something From The Nightside, the Collector ends up getting his leg chewed off by a giant cockroach during a confrontation with John Taylor. When they meet again in Agents Of Light And Darkness, the Collector has managed to replace the lost limb, but John just can't resist riling him up by snarkily asking "how's the leg?"
  • In Kim Newman's story "Organ Donors", private detective Sally Rhodes discovers a building that has been designed with a sinister purpose, which she foils by means of a large explosion. The architect who designed the building is on the premises when the explosion goes off; he survives, but loses an eye. When their paths cross again in the novel The Quorum, she makes a point of asking him if being one-eyed and lacking perspective has caused him any trouble pursuing his career. "You don't get many two-dimensional buildings, do you?"

    Live-Action TV 
  • Doctor Who: In "Revelation of the Daleks", Davros has his one working hand shot off by Bostock in a dying effort to save Orcini from his lightning attack. Soon after, while Davros is still busy fuming over the futile attempt on his life, the Doctor cheerily remarks "No 'arm in trying," and later even offers to shake his hand, much to Davros' absolute fury.
  • In the Farscape second season finale episode, "Die Me Dichotomy", Aeryn is caught off-guard when Harvey takes over Crichton's brain in the middle of an intimate moment, cracking her skull against a wall. When Harvey surfaces again and takes Crichton's module on a joyride, a freshly-recovered Aeryn follows, trying to get through to him via the comms; Harvey mockingly replies, "Little lady! How's the skull fracture?" For her part, Aeryn doesn't even dignify the insult with a response.
  • In Forever Adam frequently expresses concern for Henry's well-being after Henry dies; since Adam is also immortal and well aware that they come back in perfect health, the only reason is to needle Henry about his immortality. Adam also brings up "Abigail's final agonized moments" in an attempt to get Henry to engage in the season finale.
  • Employed very subtly in season 3 of Game of Thrones. Here, Jaime Lannister gets his hand cut off not long after being captured, though once it's realized that his captors could all be due for some serious retribution from the victim's family, he's patched up and allowed to go free in exchange for a reprieve. Jaime tries to negotiate for his bodyguard to leave with him, but Lord Roose Bolton refuses, and teasingly warns him not to overplay his... "position."
  • NCIS: Los Angeles: In "Descent", recurring villain The Chameleon has recently been sprung from Iranian jail where he was tortured by having his hand torn off, "one joint at a time." He's now brokering a deal for nuclear weapons, with the Iranians as the buyers... specifically, the guy who tortured him, who keeps making hand jokes during negotiations.

    Video Games 
  • Final Fantasy X: The Ronso Tribe are a Proud Warrior Race of Cat Folk with a unicorn-like horn on their forehead, but Kimahri's horn was snapped off near the base by Biran Ronso after Kimahri lost a fight with him. Whenever Biran and his friend Yenke encounter the party, they always behave antagonistically towards Kimahri and are fond of taunting him with the insult "hornless".
  • Injustice 2:
    • The only remaining component of Cyborg's original body is the right side of his face, with everything else being replaced with cybernetics following a terrible accident that nearly took his life. The villainous Poison Ivy is aware of how much he longs for his lost humanity and goes out of her way to mock him for it when the two prepare to fight each other.
      Poison Ivy: You're just dying to hurt me, aren't you, Tin Man? It won't bring back what you lost. Especially below the waist.
    • During one possible clash between Bane and Batman, Bane will bring up Batman's spine-shattering defeat at his hands by mockingly asking "How is your back?"
  • Early in Act 3 of Ripper, reporter Jake Quinlan is brought in for interrogation, giving Detective Magnotta an opportunity to assault him at length in an attempt to get information out of him, finishing up by just slugging him in the face. When they meet again, Magnotta sneers at Quinlan for not publishing the incident in the Herald and mockingly asks, "how's your face, asshole?"
  • During the first confrontation with Lilith in Issue #7 of The Secret World, she knows that she can't actually kill the player character without you springing back to life... so she just cuts your legs off with a laser and leaves you to it. When you finally manage to corner her atop the Orochi Building in Issue #11, she sneeringly asks "how are your legs?" Of course, you can't speak, but a good look at your face reveals that you definitely aren't amused.*

    Web Animation 
  • Dragon ShortZ: In his quest for someone to fight after Goku's Heroic Sacrifice, Vegeta goes to Android 18, who asks Vegeta how his arms are recovering after she broke them in episode 39 of Dragon Ball Z Abridged.
  • HFIL: In the second episode, Freeza laughs at Cell for getting killed by Gohan. Cell retaliates by not-so-subtly hinting at Freeza's humiliating dismemberment at the hands of Trunks, needling him with puns about how "dicey" it was - successfully pissing off Freeza for the first time in the series. Cell digs the salt in deeper the next episode by guiding Freeza to the realization that Trunks was Vegeta's son, horrifying and angering Freeza in the process.

    Web Comics 
  • In Champions of Far'aus, when One ear gets pinned by Sanguine she calls him "useless old One ear." He defiantly declares himself "old but strong", at which point Sanguine sarcastically remarks "so strong you could not stop me from taking your ear", and continues to taunt him, saying he should come closer if he wants to lose the other one.
  • The Order of the Stick: When one of Xykon's Co-Dragons, Redcloak, has one of his eyes gouged out, Xykon forbids him from regenerating it as a form of punishment. He also encourages the other co-dragon, Tsukiko, to start using the insult "Wrong-Eye" towards Redcloak, to belittle him if she thinks he's getting too uppity. Redcloak's deceased brother Right-Eye lost his own eye under similar circumstances, so the nickname brings back uncomfortable memories.

    Web Videos 
  • Dragon Ball Z Abridged:
    • During their confrontation in season 3, Tien Shin Han is able to hammer Semi-Perfect Cell into the ground with the Kikoho technique, and though it nearly costs Tien his life, it nets Cell his first real defeat and delays him long enough for Android 18 to escape. As such, Tien is careful to rub this fact in Cell's face when next they meet by cheerily remarking "Kikohow you doing?"
    • Also in season 3, Vegeta and Yamcha both find themselves exchanging this type of insult — though in this case, neither of them were responsible for the injuries: the former needles Yamcha over being punched through the chest by Professor Gero, who was a threat to almost nobody else on the team... only for the latter to achieve a rare win by mockingly reminding Vegeta that he's still fresh from getting his spine snapped at the end of a humiliating defeat at the hands of Perfect Cell.
      Vegeta: Hello, Earthing! How's that gaping chest wound?
      Yamcha: Just fine! How's your spine?
      [{{stunned silence]
      Vegeta: [seething with rage] I'm giving you a five minute head-start.
      Yamcha: [without changing tone] Thank you! I'm going to need it. You're very fast.

    Western Animation 
  • Ben 10: Omniverse: The first time Rook meets Michael Morningstar, he feels the need to comment on Mike's ugly face. As Mike had just been defeated in a very humiliating way by Ben a mere minute after getting his good looks back, he can only sob in response.
  • SpongeBob SquarePants: In "Demolition Doofus", Mrs. Puff's inflation sac has burst after SpongeBob crashes a boat yet again. SpongeBob doesn't show much remorse for having injured her, he just jokes that she'll have to be called Mrs. Pop from now on. Mrs. Puff is furious.


Video Example(s):


"You are quite ugly."

It's not enough to defeat Mike Morningstar and ruin his plans; Rook also feels the need to comment on his ugly face. To be fair, this is the first time Rook has met him.

How well does it match the trope?

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Main / VerbalSaltInTheWound

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