Syndrome: See?! Now you respect me, because I'm a threat! That's the way it works. Turns out there are a lot of people, whole countries who want respect, and they will pay through the nose to get it! How do you think I got rich? I invented weapons, and now I have a weapon that only I can defeat!
So you have a character who is the butt of every joke. They are regularly put through hell, at times purely for the audience's amusement, but just as often to the audience's disgust. They might be innocent victims or they might be pitiable villains. One thing is for certain. They have had enough.
What did the heroes do wrong? Maybe the harmless mook wasn't so harmless after all. Maybe that last jibe went too far. Whatever the reason, this character is through with being the comedy sidekick and determined to show the heroes precisely why you should Beware the Silly Ones, Beware the Nice Ones, and Beware the Quiet Ones. What did the villains do wrong? Ahem, everything. But they are going to pay for at least one of their Kick the Dog moments. And what better way to go about it than to become a villain?
This can occur with victims of a world full of Jerk Jocks, where the Kids Are Cruel and Teens Are Monsters. You can bet it will lead to this aesop: said victim doesn't realize the irony, that by taking revenge they have become as bad as those who victimized them. If they do realize it, expect an Ignored Epiphany. This could also result in the Butt-Monkey being pushed back down into the former position, or the character could become relatively harmless but still extremely annoying. May result in the character becoming Arch Enemies with the most abusive.
A specific variant of FaceHeel Turn and/or He Who Fights Monsters, and a form of Freudian Excuse. Compare Start of Darkness, Beware the Nice Ones, Break the Cutie, Woobie, Destroyer of Worlds, Kick the Dog, Not-So-Harmless Villain, They Called Me Mad!, and Then Let Me Be Evil. Also compare The Dog Bites Back which is when this is a villain's reason for changing his ways.
Not to be confused with Who's Crying Now.
- The commercial for Sonic & Knuckles that came out around Christmas 1994. Supposed to be innovative, Santa didn't like the idea, so the elves who supposedly thought it up went and sold the game and its "Lock-on Technology" to Sega. They quote this trope at the end.
Elf 1: Who's laughing now, fat man! [both elves start laughing hysterically]
- Ephialtes from 300—who, as far as Who's Laughing Now? people go, was treated rather reasonably by Leonidas, particularly in the comic (as what happened later in the movie seemed to put the lie to the idea of the Spartans' strength being the phalanx formation). It's worse in the comic. He tries to commit suicide after his rejection by jumping off a cliff but survives, in agony. He blames the gods for forcing him to live his torturous existence. That's what makes him renounce his Spartan heritage and the Greek gods in favor of one who actually appears to give a shit about him.
- Spider-Man, in the crossover novel series Time's Arrow, muses on the phenomenon of Cut Lex Luthor a Check (and, indeed, the tendency of good people with powers to become vigilantes rather than making millions), and realizes it's not about the money—it's about showing up everyone who ever laughed at them.
- In another issue, Peter Parker is at his old high school, trying to secure a teaching job when suddenly, someone comes in and starts shooting up the place. Peter changes into Spider-Man and takes the shooter out only to realize that he's just a kid who was sick and tired of being bullied by the other kids at the school. As he's hauled off to jail, Peter grimly reflects that he could have easily turned out the same way.
- In the Skin Deep story arc Peter's former classmate, who was mercilessly bullied at school, gets superpowers and after he sees two of his former tormentors mocking at him on TV he goes and kills them. In the end Spider-Man got him frozen, probably for the rest of his life. And he is conscious.
- In Ultimate Spider-Man, Peter often mocks the even-more-pathetic-than-he-is-in-main-continuity Ultimate Shocker before beating him up with almost no effort. When Shocker gets lucky and knocks Peter out, he ties him up in a warehouse and tortures him slowly, as payback for all the times he was mocked. Interestingly, even though the guy is trying to kill him, Peter genuinely apologizes for being such a jerk after hearing Shocker's surprisingly sad Breaking Lecture.
- In The Savage Dragon, there was a boy routinely bullied and abused by his parents until he woke up one day with superpowers that actually made him the most powerful being on Earth. One Roaring Rampage of Revenge later, and after sweeping aside most of the other heroes, The Dragon manages to talk him down and convince him not to make himself a thing to be feared by the world. Ironically, one of many instances when the character realistically acts like a cop first, and a super-powered bruiser second.
- The early 1990s Marvel series Sleepwalker featured a nerdy psychology student who was regularly made fun of by his Jerk Jock enemy, who teased him about being a "dateless bookworm." When he gains superhuman powers after an accident involving Sleepwalker, he immediately gets revenge on the Jerk Jock by conjuring a gang of murderous warriors from his book on Classical Mythology to kill him. Ticking time bomb, anyone?
- One story in The Authority story involved a monster that turned out to be an abused kid that woke up with unlimited shapeshifting powers.
- One Joker's Asylum comic highlights this as the Penguin's MO. At one point, it shows how the Penguin subtly uses his influence to drive a man to suicide, simply because the man was laughing, and happened to look in the Penguin's direction.
- Dr. Light started out as the butt-monkey of the villain world, but then he rapes Elongated Man's wife. He was later retconned into always being that way.
- In Italian stories, Donald Duck has a secret identity as Paperinik il Diabolico Vendicatore (Diabolico Vendicatore being Italian for Devilish Avenger). While he's sometimes portrayed as a more lighthearted superhero, earlier stories make clear it's actually about showing up everyone who laughs at Donald (he even conned Gladstone in thinking that Donald cursed him into being unlucky, and showed as Donald to get paid for taking the curse away), with the criminals fitting it due them taking the easy way in life (the very first story has Paperinik stealing Scrooge's mattress while he's sleeping on it because stealing the sacks of money in the same room would have been too easy. Just to make clear that if he ever decided to become a thief nothing and no one could stop him since the beginning).
- A chapter from the first story of The Mask is even titled this trope. It shows Stanley Ipkiss killing people who wronged him such as the mechanics who ripped him off and a school teacher who picked on him when he was a kid. This guy can really hold a grudge.
- Scooby-Doo! Team-Up: In the Shazam issue, after Sabbac mocks Ibac for being tricked into saying his transforming word, he's tricked as well and Ibac asks "Who's the dolt now?".
- In the climax of the IDW crossover Street Fighter X G.I. Joe, the Joes and World Warriors defeat the super powered dictator M. Bison and win his crooked fighting tournament. After they publicly reveal that the tournament was fixed, an incensed Rufus challenges Guile for bragging rights. He is soundly defeated and everyone laughs. Angry and humiliated, note Rufus unwittingly absorbs Bison's residual evil energy note becomes the monstrous Psycho Rufus, and unleashes hell on all the good guys.
- Emiri, who had spent the whole of You Got HaruhiRolled! as the Butt-Monkey, suddenly joins the Anti-SOS Brigade and kills every other character except for Kyon and his family at the end of her character arc. Things go back to normal in the next one.
- Combined with Then Let Me Be Evil, this is very much the case with Harry in the AU fic Heir. After putting up with the Dursleys' abuse (which is NOT Played for Laughs), and with a little goading from the voice of the Tom Riddle Horcrux in his mind, Harry decides to really give them all a legitimate reason to fear his powers.
- The Pony POV Series has several examples:
Nightmare Eclipse: (Enjoy this big spoonful of your own medicine. Again, and again, and again, and again, and again, and again. Forever, never to end. As I watch you squirm for my entertainment. Just like I had to suffer for your amusement with no end in sight!)
- Film Critique from Patch's Gaiden Story chose some of his victims because they had laughed at him before he had found the Shard of Laughter and went From Nobody to Nightmare. Of course, a lot of them were just innocent ponies he decided to bend to his will.
- Nightmare Eclipse/Paradox, the true Big Bad of Dark World and Twilight's potential future Nightmare self, did this to Discord. He spent a thousand years using her as his personal plaything until she finally broke free and invoked the Nightmare transformation to become Nightmare Purgatory so she could Pay Evil unto Evil. She then became She Who Fights Monsters, trapped him in a "Groundhog Day" Loop Ironic Hell, and reduced him to little more than her tortured puppet, just like he'd done to her.
- Set up to be the case in the ongoing Lost Girl story Change of State. After being abused and mistreated by the Light Fae for at least 7 years, Lauren is taken in by the Morrigan. She treats Lauren politely, and has another Fae slightly alter Lauren's memories/mind. This Fae (without ever outright lying) reminds Lauren of every time humans were needlessly cruel or ungrateful, how the Light Fae mistreated her (while reminding Lauren the Dark Fae haven't mistreated her), Dyson and Kenzi endlessly mocked and insulted her, and Bo constantly failed her. As a result, Lauren is just as brilliant, but is now a Torture Technician Social Darwinist. At one point, she quite cheerfully comments to the Morrigan that she is capable of committing genocide.
- This other Fae actually warns the Morrigan about this, saying Lauren wont take any abuse lying down. Which isn't to say Lauren is above having fun with it. After the Morrigan refers to Lauren as a dog once to often, she awakens the next morning restrained with a golden retriever (named Lauren Jr.) in her room, and peanut butter on her nether regions.
- There are a lot of Buffy the Vampire Slayer stories out in fan fiction land which have Xander Harris be the Scooby the demons are most afraid of. Not Buffy, the Slayer's leader, nor Faith the Uncontrollable Slayer. Not Willow the all-powerful witch. Not Giles, who has an army of superpowered women at his command and is a sorcerer in his own right. The reason he's the most feared is two-fold: first, he has no visible means to power, yet survived fighting alongside the Slayer, so most demons figure he has to have some power, and that it's very effective and difficult to detect. And second, it's widely known that Willow once tried to destroy the world and it was Xander that stopped her. No one outside of the Scoobies knows how, and they aren't telling!
- In Origin Story, this trope was basically Alex Harris's reaction to Tony Stark wanting to be nice and conciliatory after Alex put most of the Avengers and about a hundred SHIELD agents in the hospital.
- The Digimon Adventure 02 fandom has written several stories in which Daisuke/Davis (who, in canon, is a known Butt-Monkey) overhears his fellow Digidestined insulting him, decides that that's the last straw, and either quits the team or turns evil, often getting his revenge on the ones who insulted him.
- In The Dark Side of the Mirror Verse, the Mirror Mane Six are largely Harmless Villains and losers, but Mirror Twilight in particular feels like she's been disrespected and wronged her entire life and her family became a laughing stock and disgraced when her older brother eloped with Empress Cadenza. She also feels the School for Gifted Unicorns wronged her by kicking her out instead of teaching her the focus to handle her power after her mana surge, which even Mirror Trixie admits is true. Ultimately, she accidentally overloads her Mana Collector, and the resulting explosion combined with her bitterness and envy over this fact turns her into Nightmare Spotlight, who goes full on this trope. She plans to publicly humiliate and take revenge on everypony who she believes did her wrong, and nearly destroys Canterlot in the process. She outright admits after she's defeated and purified, that everything she did as Spotlight was basically her power fantasies brought to life. She even ended up giving a version of the Syndrome page quote.
- Twenty Gyarados Bill from the universe of Pokémon Reset Bloodlines was motivated to go on his infamous rampage by the constant mockery he suffered.
- Yuuri Katsuki of the Rivals Series started as a ridiculed fan and then was ridiculed for his desire to defeat Viktor. Then, not only does he beat Viktor at the Olympics but takes the gold medal several separate times. The effect is mitigated, however, by the fact that Viktor does not mind as nearly as much as Yuuri thinks he does, a fact that Yuuri does not subconsciously realize until later.
- In Conversations with a Cryptid All for One was originally a vigilante who was trying to protect his family and working alongside with his brother, the First One for All wielder. But then unauthorized Quirk use was deemed illegal and out of hundreds of vigilantes, only seven were permitted to become the first pro-heroes. While All for One didn't make the cut, his brother did. In protest, All for One gathered his fellow vigilantes and formed the League of Villains. From then on, All for One terrorized Japan, for two hundred years and become the most feared supervillain.
- A small part of Izuku's motivation in Hero Class Civil Warfare is that he completely allowed to get some revenge on Bakugou for a decade of bullying using all the knowledge Izuku has gathered on him over the years. Heck, the more detailed and through he was in curb-stomping Bakugou the better his grade was!
- Apotheosis (MHA): Izuku spent years abused and put down by society for being quirkless. After his dreams of being a hero are crushed by All Might, he finally snaps and goes down the road of villainy, eventually culminating in him building an Infinity Gauntlet and becoming Japan's worst supervillain, arguably surpassing even All for One himself. After that, many people, including the aforementioned All Might, are suddenly wishing they had treated him much better pre-FaceHeel Turn.
- Syndrome from The Incredibles is a glaring example. Being a total screwup of an unwanted sidekick leads him to be rejected by his idol, which leads him to try and kill off all the world's superheros and rub it in said idol's face. In a twist, his actions as a Big Bad result in him becoming the Butt-Monkey again and again, because while he is a legitimate threat, he has no idea how to work under pressure. Once things don't go the way he planned, he ends up scrambling to rerail the scenario until it blows up in his face.
- Double Subversion in Aladdin: The Return of Jafar.
Genie: [bold, heroic] HAHAHAHAHA, who's laughing now?!Jafar: Mmmuhahahahahahahahahahahaha! Why, I believe it's me.
- The Lemons from Cars 2 were apparently made evil all because of this.
- Pitch Black's We Can Rule Together speech to Jack Frost in Rise of the Guardians has elements of this. Both characters had been ignored and forgotten, so Pitch tries to get Jack to join him so that they'll be able to make the world notice them together while never having to be alone again. Jack defies this, pointing out that while he wants to be acknowledged, Pitch wants to be feared, and Jack would rather continue to be invisible than terrorize people.
- Heroic example: Ash in Evil Dead 2 makes good use of this trope during a chainsaw rampage, which includes cutting off his own possessed hand.
Ash: Who's laughing now? WHO'S LAUGHING NOW?! WAHAHAHAHAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA!
- In A Room For Romeo Brass, after Gavin plays a prank on Morrell (tricking him into making an idiot of himself in front of Romeo's sister, who he is in love with), Morrell responds by threatening him with a knife, telling him he'll kill his family, and turning Gavin's best friend, the titular Romeo, against him. Later, after Romeo's sister rejects him, he not only turns on Romeo too, but unsuccessfully attempts to make good of his threats earlier in the film.
- Subverted, however with Romeo's dad, who instantly sees the kind of guy that Morrell really is and immediately takes the piss out of him in their first meeting. Morell threatens to go 'dark' on him. Morell doesn't get the chance; later, when he's about to make good on his earlier threats against Gavin's family, Romeo's dad charges straight in, gives Morell a hiding he won't soon forget, and then sends Morrell (who is by this point crying like a toddler) away with his tail between his legs and the promise that if he ever shows his face around there again, then Romeo's dad really will kill him.
- Kung Fu Hustle plays with this using the main character Sing. When he was a child, he tried to save a girl from bullies, only to be badly beaten up. As an adult, he intentionally becomes a thief and "tough guy" in an attempt to invoke this trope. Problem is, he's a horrible thief and everyone around him are Kung-Fu Masters, so he ends up as the Butt-Monkey. When Sing manifests super-mega-Kung-Fu might however, the film subverts this. Rather then take revenge on everyone who laughed at him, as he claimed he was going to do throughout the film, he decides to be the good person he wanted to be as a child and becomes a gentle and forgiving man.
- This is, in itself, the best revenge of all by dint of rising above the trope to live well.
- Bound (1996): Caesar both plays the trope straight and says the tag line almost verbatim. He also gets... rather animated while doing so.
Caesar: I'm a dead man, Johnnie? I'm a fucking dead man? Guess again, Johnnie. Who's the dead man? Who? Who's dead, fuckface? Who? Who? I can't hear you, Johnnie. Guess again. Take another guess, Johnnie. Take another fucking guess!"
- The Running Man: This trope is invoked when the electricity-themed 'stalker' Dynamo, having been humiliated by Ben Richards and Amber in the game zone, has decided to get even by raping Amber when he comes upon her later. It's rather beautifully thrown back in his face:
Dynamo: Thought it was pretty funny back in the Zone, didn't you? What's the matter, bitch? Why aren't you laughing?
Amber: Because there's nothing funny about a dickless moron with a battery up his ass.
- A heroic example in Rocky Balboa, used by the title character's son to motivate him before the third round:
Robert: Hey, stay on him! Everybody thought this was a joke, including me! Now, nobody's laughing! Stay on him!
- The horror film The Final is all about this: The bullying victims rounded up everyone who had bullied them and put them through varying degrees of torture. Note that how poorly they were mistreated is open to interpretation. Emily, for example, hated the popular girls because they rebuffed her attempts at being friends. (And made some admittedly cruel jokes.)
- I'm pretty sure Emily hated the popular kids more for how they outright abused her friends than how they treated her (with her hatred of the popular girls being a 'you could help so much more than you hurt if you only gave a damn'
- Watching the end of the movie gives the impression that at least Emily and the guy in the Scarecrow costume were in it to commit suicide more than anything
- Invoked in Spaced Invaders when much-abused nerd Vern, upgraded to a cyborg and under mind control by the Martians, uses their technology to create the giant irrigation machine he's always dreamed of, and with it destroy "butthead" Klembecker's car in revenge for years of bullying. When the Martians set him free he retains his newfound confidence, and steals Klembecker's date for good measure.
- The eponymous central character of Stephen King's Carrie was a nice girl who endured all of the abuse from her classmates and her mother until that incident with the pig's blood at her senior prom, at which point she promptly snapped and went on a telekinetic rampage that left the town of Chamberlain devastated.
- The Goosebumps novel Calling All Creeps features protagonist Ricky Beamer who is picked on by everyone in school just For the Evulz and is even kicked out of the newspaper twice for something that wasn't even his fault. He decides to get even with the editor of the paper, Tasha, by sending her message on the editor, only to discover that it backfired on him, and now Ricky receives calls from the four Creeps'' that venerate him as his commander. In the end, however, Ricky decides to not warn the class about the seeds in the cookies and gets the opportunity to enslave everyone who picked on him in the beginning.
- Several examples in Harry Potter:
- Professor Snape plays with this, since he was bullied, his attempts at revenge and betrayal ultimately lead him into remorse and to seek redemption. He spends his profession making the majority of Hogwarts' pupils' studies hell.
- Peter Pettigrew is another example, with Word of God confirming that his triumph over Sirius, whereby Faking the Dead he got Sirius locked up in Azkaban for years and framed him for betraying the Potters was this trope.
- Another heroic example occurs in Flora's Dare. After having been through a series of harrowing misadventures, Flora learns that she had been played as an Unwitting Pawn by Lord Axacaya the whole time. What really sets her off though is when she gets bushwhacked by Springheel Jack, who intends to do all sorts of "fabulous things" to her.
- Dr. Impossible, the Villain Protagonist of Soon I Will Be Invincible, has this as his Start of Darkness though becoming the world's most feared supervillain does nothing to improve his status as the Butt-Monkey.
- Tweedledee, the diminutive Non-Action Big Bad of The Unholy Three tried his hardest throughout his whole life to rise above the humiliation and bullying he received and be a good (even heroic) person in spite of it, but once he finally reached his Despair Event Horizon, he stopped caring, gave into his bitterness and his evil impulses, and - with his two friends - began a violent crime spree; this was all an effort to stroke his ego by convincing himself that he was capable of elaborate, gruesome murders and was someone to be feared rather than mocked.
- This is slightly downplayed in the Lon Chaney movie adaptations where Tweedledee - while still driven to a life of crime by mockery - is more interested in making money than in getting even with society (but is still more than willing to commit murder).
- Luduschka the Ogre in Sukhinov's Emerald City tales. As a child, he was clumsy, lazy and dumb. Now he is using this image to trap people. He even gets back at Corina later on.
- Captain Underpants: Professor Poopypants became a supervillain because he was sick of people making fun of his name.
- In A Song of Ice and Fire, Walder Frey claims this is his motivation for the Red Wedding, which results in the deaths of King Robb Stark, his mother Catelyn and most of their bannermen because everyone was always looking down on him, such as Hoster Tully calling him "The Late Lord Frey" after he showed up late to the Battle of the Trident and various people mocking him for his succession of wives, but the most recent slight was Robb marrying someone else when he had promised to wed one of Walder's daughters in exchange for their alliance. The TV series makes this especially obvious.
The 'Late Walder Frey,' old Tully called me, because I didn't get my men to the Trident in time for the battle. He thought he was witty. Look at us now, Tully! You're dead. Your daughter's dead. Your grandson's dead. Your son spent his wedding night in a dungeon... And I'm lord of Riverrun. Heh heh heh.
- Arguably this could be Littlefinger's entire motivation for starting the devastating War of the Five Kings as a form of revenge for certain humiliating and traumatic events that took place during his childhood at Riverrun.
- Raistlin Majere from Dragonlance has this as part of his initial motivation to gain power, having been born sickly and not expected to survive and always feeling that he stood in the shadow of his twin brother Caramon. Early on in the first book he launches into a rant against his friend Tanis about this that Tanis' narration notes he's done so many times that he's just used to it. This also foreshadows his eventual FaceHeel Turn where he takes the black robes of an evil wizard. He then outgrows these feelings and moves on to far greater plans and far bigger targets.
- Journey to Chaos: Caffour spent his life kowtowing to the mortal powers that be and hated it. Once he is granted necrocraft, he announces his plan to overthrow them and finally gain respect.
- Bob Monkhouse parodied this trope:
They laughed when I said I wanted to be a comedian. Well... they're not laughing now!
- Buffy the Vampire Slayer: In one season 1 episode, a girl who was ignored by everyone in the school becomes invisible as a result, and decides to take revenge on Cordelia. Then she gets taken away by government agents and apparently becomes a government assassin.
- Even early Spike counts in this category. In flashbacks to his life when he was human it is revealed that he was a total Woobie when he was alive. He was a kind, romantic poet, and he was looking after his ill mother. He was also taunted by his peers and rejected by everyone else. After he becomes a vampire and Angelus and Drucilla influence him, he becomes one of the most feared vampires out there. He even uses one of his peer's old taunts like "We call him William the Bloody after his bloody awful poems." "I would rather have a railway spike through my head than listen to that." In Spike's first episode in season 2 of Buffy, it is revealed that he got his name Spike from torturing his victims with railway spikes, and "William the Bloody" came to refer to carnage he left in his wake. This is obviously a reaction to old humiliations.
- Criminal Minds: The unsub in the episode "Elephant's Memory" is a badly bullied kid who snaps and goes on a killing spree of everyone who's ever wronged him.
- Flashpoint: In one episode, Billy, a high school boy, is bullied viciously by his best friend's Jerkass boyfriend. Guess who shows up the next day with a loaded gun? However, Billy reveals that he doesn't want to hurt them, and simply wants to scare the shit out of them until they apologize. The aforementioned best friend manages to talk him out of continuing his rampage, right before the boyfriend stumbles into things, and an overenthusiastic cop comes in and mucks everything up. It ends well, though.
- Frasier: Upon hearing that the boy who bullied him as a child—"He used to call me "Shorts In The Shower Boy!""—is now in prison, Niles sips his coffee and smugly queries:
- Law & Order: Special Victims Unit: Obnoxious, Scrappy lab rat Stuckey has been catching hell all season by Stabler and his senior lab partner note , but it comes to a head after a small error allows a serial killer to go free and he gets mocked and yelled at by a bunch of people, including the killer himself. Stuckey then kills an innocent to plant evidence and get a second chance at the killer, then kills the lawyer, almost kills the judge, kills his lab partner and tortures Stabler for a bit. Were it not for the arrival of Olivia and Stuckey's feelings for her....
- NCIS: Heroic example. In the episode "Deception," McGee chats with a teenaged Jerk Jock suspect about how much fun it is to taunt the geeks and nerds, giving them wedgies, shoving them into lockers, and making their lives a living hell. As the jock loosens up and starts laughing and agreeing, McGee reveals that he had been one of those geeks all through high school, and had always been tormented by the jocks, but guess what? McGee has the upper hand now.
- The Office (US): Referenced when Dwight pepper-sprays Roy who is about to attack Jim. Unfortunately, Dwight ends up spraying not just Roy, but also Jim, Pam, and himself. With tears rolling down his face, he states that he was mocked for bringing pepper spray to work, but "who's laughing now?"
- Revolution: In "Nobody's Fault But Mine", Tom Neville launches into this sort of speech with Aaron Pittman. He practically accuses Aaron of being a rich boy who bullied workers huddled in their cubicles. It's not clear if Aaron really was that type of person or if Neville simply equates every rich CEO with the Jerkass boss who fired Neville shortly before the blackout.
- Smallville: Every other Monster of the Week in the first season was some stressed/abused kid who suddenly obtained superpowers from Green Rocks.
- Suits: When Hardman makes Louis a Senior Partner, Jessica and Harvey try to woo him to their side. Instead, he lashes out at both of them for the past five years when he received only the most limited recognition of his accomplishments while the favored Harvey rose to Senior Partner first. When Hardman takes control of the firm, Louis becomes his attack dog and nearly gets Harvey fired.
- Teen Wolf: Zig-Zagging Trope with Isaac and Erica. They don't seem to channel their anger at those who tormented them once they turn to werewolves. Then they reveal they DO have grievance they want to rectify, but only act on them opportunistically.
- In the Married... with Children episode where Peggy and Al attend their high school reunion, Al and the other former jerk jocks are stunned to see that the nerdy boys they bullied are now filthy rich and have numerous gorgeous women fawning all over them.
Nerd: Should have done your own homework, guys! (laughs smugly)
- Saturday Night Live: When Adam Sandler returned to host for the first time since leaving the show 24 years prior, he opened up by singing a song about how Creator/NBC fired him that ended with this:
Sandler: I was fired, I was fired/ NBC said that I was done/ Then I made over 4 billion dollars at the box office/ So I guess you could say I won!
- Seinfeld: The Grand Finale has every single minor character showing up and testifying about the protagonists' long history of selfish deeds throughout the show, thereby dooming them to serve time in prison.
Babu Bhatt: They're totally indifferent. All they do is mock me, just like they did the fat fellow. All the time. Mocking, mocking, mocking, mocking, mocking. All the time! Now, it is Babu's turn to mock. Finally, I will have some justice. Send them away! Send them all away! Lock them up forever! They are not human. Very bad! Very, very, very bad!
- A song written by Parry Gripp is entitled Who's Laughing Now?
- "Waking the Demon" by Bullet For My Valentine is about a bullying victim who takes revenge.
- The Coheed and Cambria song Apollo II: The Telling Truth mentions this trope in the lyrics. It involves The Writer losing it and taking out his anger at his ex-girlfriend on the character he based off of her.
- "So come on bitch, Why aren't you laughing now? You left me here to fend on my own. So cry on bitch, Why aren't you laughing now?"
- "Superhero" by the band Trocadero (best known for the Red vs. Blue CD) includes the line "Your days calling me freak are numbered / Don't bother with surrender."
- "Teenagers" by My Chemical Romance has: "The boys and girls in the clique / The awful names that they stick / You're never gonna fit in much, kid / But if you're troubled and hurt / What you got under your shirt / Will make them pay for the things that they did"
- "The Future Soon" by Jonathan Coulton is about how the singer is laughed at now, but one day when he's grown up and it's the future, he'll take over the world with his legions of killer robots and show them all.
- "Goin' Down" by Three Days Grace
- Parodied in Red Snow by Psychostick: " Rudolph's gonna make you suffer."
- "Meet The Monster" by Five Finger Death Punch.
- The lyrics to the great Union patriotic song "Marching Through Georgia" feature this quite heavily:
- "The Kinslayer" by Nightwish invokes the trope.
- "Getting Scared" by Imogen Heap is from the point of view of a victim who's completely snapped and taking their nasty revenge.
Yeah you're getting scared now, piggy,
Go ahead and squeal
It sounds so nice from where I'm standing
- "Lunchbox" by Marilyn Manson which is about a bullying victim who uses his metal lunchbox as a weapon on the playground:
The big bully try to stick his finger in my chest
Try to tell me, tell me he's the best
But I don't really give a good goddamn cause
I got my lunchbox and I'm armed real well
- Michael Jackson's "Bad" also seems worth mentioning. (Most likely sequencing "Beat It")
- George and Ira Gershwin's song "They All Laughed" lists instances throughout history of great minds who were mocked in their time (from Christopher Columbus supposedly proving that the earth is round to Milton Hershey's incredible ability to sell chocolate to people who want to eat chocolate), comparing these instances to how the singer was mocked for his love for "you."
- Jessie J's Who's Laughing Now was written in response to those who bullied or put her down when she was younger who wanted to know her once she gained fame. Part of the bridge features these lyrics:
Oh, so you think you know me now
Have you forgotten how
You would make me feel
When you dragged my spirit down?
- Playboy Gary Hart was just a kid whose parents were humoring his desire to become a pro wrestler in the Chicago territory during the 1960s. He was derided for his seeming lack of athleticism and Pretty Boy looks, however, so he turned to managing The Spoiler, and then Spoiler #2, who created havoc throughout the Tag Team divisions of the NWA, then assisted The Fabulous Freebirds against the ever popular Von Erich Family, as well as playing pivotal role in the success of other famous trouble makers like Kevin Sullivan and Bruiser Brody.
- Jim Cornette was initially just a photographer selling his work at Jarrett family Continental Wrestling Association shows. One day he asked his mother, who also sold merchandise in the area, for more money so he could become a manager, an aspiration that earned him endless mocking from the likes of Bill Dundee and Jerry Lawler, derision from what wrestlers would give him a chance and lots of jeering from the fans. Laughed out of CWA, Cornette went to Mid-South, found Dennis Condrey and Bobby Eaton, then put together one of the greatest tag teams of all time, The Midnight Express, who helped him get back at the fans by antagonizing popular acts like MagnumTA, The Street People, The Road Warriors and, of course, The Rock 'n' Roll Express. He'd also manage the likes The Grappler, Vader, The Heavenly Bodies and The Head Hunters against former managerial clients who spurned him, lead his own promotion in an invasion of WCW and the NWA itself against the WWF, which resulted in the oft overlooked skirt wearing Head Bangers being thrust into stardom.
- Has happened pretty often in WWE in an attempt to give a wrestler used for comedy a bigger push by making them "more serious" with Rikishi (went from dancing with Too Cool to running over Stone Cold), Gregory Helms (originally a superhero parody) and with R-Truth (originally rapped his way to the ring). Nine times out of ten, it doesn't work.
- Molly Holly in 2003. After spending 2002 as a Butt Monkey (thanks to WWE's insane idea that the best way to get her over as a villain was to have everyone call her "fat-ass"), she regained the Women's Championship, drafted Gail Kim to be her mook and unleashed hell on Trish Stratus, who initiated the verbal abuse in the storyline. Sadly, it didn't last. In 2004, she reverted back to her Butt Monkey status after getting her head shaved at WrestleMania 20.
- Eric Young's FaceHeel Turn in TNA in 2009 is a textbook Who's Laughing Now. Young had a comedy gimmick for much of his run in TNA, and eventually began to perceive himself as the Butt-Monkey of the company, especially when he joined the Front Line and dumped many of the comedy aspects of said gimmick. Eric's inability to get title shots and opportunities for whatever reason resulted in him forming the World Elite faction, a group of Anti-American Foreign Wrestling Heels who believe their perceived lack of success and popularity is because they were not born in the United States.
- Subverted with Santino Marella, who was a comedy face but was turned heel and still kept his comedy status. He got so popular they turned him back face and he Took a Level in Badass, even winning the Tag Team Titles.
- The reaction of John Cena when Triple H thought it was funny to tease Cena about his failure at a rematch Randy Orton at the 2014 despite the no interferences cause, which only applied to The Authority not the group who did. However, is this so? Triple H forgot about the DQ rule still applied in the 6-man tag match against The Shield when it happened again. The two men on Cenas team.
- After The Cabinet were knocked out of the Ring of Honor World Six Man Tag Team Tournament, they attacked The Motor City Machine Guns and 2015 Top Prospect Donovan Dijak, seemingly at random. Kenny King alleged that "The Cabinet" was something the ROH Executives had saddled them with, and furthermore that they had been presented as clowns to the audience but would no longer tolerate being laughed at. They'd instead come to be known as The Rebellion, and it pretty accurately sums up their activities.
- In a meta example, in Warhammer 40,000, Imperial Guard players had this reaction after years of being a Butt-Monkey in both the fluff and the game rules and getting some really good codices.
- Speaking of the Guard, in Dawn of War one of the Baneblade unit's quotes is "Who's dying now?"
- The Iron Warriors legion turned traitor because of this. They became amongst the most bitter and hateful entities in the franchise after being used during the most hellish sieges of the Great Crusade, or relegated to garrison duty - in some cases ten-man squads of Iron Warriors were expected to maintain order on entire worlds. During the Horus Heresy they sided with the other traitors, and took particular, vicious glee in dismantling the defenses of the Imperial Palace.
- This is the primary motivation for Gretchin to volunteer for implantation within a Killa Kan - that, and not having actually witnessed the process. New Killa Kans tend to go on a rampage and take revenge on the Orks who formerly mistreated them. The rest of the greenskins find this hilarious, and the activation of a new batch of Kans tends to have a festival atmosphere.
- Exalted: The Primordial War is Autochthon's one huge Who's Laughing Now? moment. After aeons of being the Butt-Monkey amongst "fellow" titans, he eventually had enough and made the Exaltation to massacre the gigantic dicks. Moral of the story: don't piss off the shy genius.
- This is the main reason why the Gruul Clans from Magic: The Gathering are so violent. The guild was originally created to protect the environment of Ravnica, but after it was destroyed save for a few pockets of wild for the sake of city expansion, the members of the guild were no longer treated like citizens and instead are treated as slaves. This made the Gruul Clans vengeful towards anything that has to do with Ravnican civilization and more then willing to raid and destroy the city to reclaim land for the wild and themselves.
- In BattleTech, the Urbanmech has long been considered to be one of, if not the worst canon Battlemech every made. In one book, it was given a variant that mounted an Arrow IV Missile Artillery variant that, it was immediately pointed out, was capable of carrying multiple nuclear warheads.
- Cyrano de Bergerac: Deconstructed by Cyrano: he has been The Grotesque all his life, now he is the most badass swashbuckler in all Paris. Notice that this, instead of diminish the bullying he suffers, makes him even more bullied and contributes to Cyranos downfall.
- Bernard in Death of a Salesman is too classy to say it, but it's clear he's thinking it.
- Strong Sad from Homestar Runner is constantly abused by his brother Strong Bad. He has gotten back at him, however, by doing things such as throwing snowballs at him and showing the audience a video of Strong Bad embarrassing himself at the talent show.
- Parodied (like so many other things) in Cheat Commandos, where recurring Butt-Monkey Reynold ends up sharing a cell with the freshly-imprisoned Blue Laser Commander, who convinces him to take his frustrations out on a picture of Duke Expy Gunhaver. By the end, he's working for Blue Laser as their latest member, "Scrawnjob" (though considering how unnaturally friendly the Cheat Commandos are with Blue Laser, it's debatable whether this really counts as a FaceHeel Turn on any level).
- Daria Cohens The Vampair Series starts with Missi sneaking into the mansion of Duke, a powerful vampire, and being subjected to a game of cat and mouse. By the third video Missi has learned how to effectively use Dukes cane, and uses it to assume control of his mansion, even resurrecting the guy just to deny him the joys of living in the underworld.
- In 8-Bit Theater, White Mage (after having her world view invalidated) tries to be evil before a couple panels. She turns back because, it turns out, she doesn't like hurting people. And she's really bad at it, unless the inflicting of pain is directed upon Black Mage, usually in response to one of his questionable come-on lines. On the other hand, Onion Kid manages to pull a Who's Laughing Now with a bit more success.
- In Author Space, Cream the Rabbit was used as the Butt-Monkey for a long time, until episode 100, where she went loose in a giant Ride Armor suit that seemed to be invulnerable to all damage. After they beat up Cream, she goes back to her prior status.
- In Vexxarr, after the titular character manages to convince the vegetable-based AI that's been trying to kill him that he's their supreme leader, he gets some incredibly creative revenge.
Mahakalosian: So, what is that noise?Spoorflix: It's... hard to describe. It's like a musical review... with cudgels.
- Eridan Ampora in Homestuck, although this is not the only reason for his FaceHeel Turn. (Heel Even Bigger Heel Turn?)
- The Order of the Stick:
- A goblin calls Durkon short. He casts Thor's Might, going up two size categories and towering over the goblin.
Durkon: Now who's the short one?
- Also, Xykon to a degree. In Start of Darkness, every time he encounters a wizard, they take a moment to state that as a sorcerer, he is inferior to them. (To compare, a sorcerer develops magic naturally while a wizard has to study for it; as far as wizards are concerned, the way sorcerors use magic is like comparing a rubber mallet to a finely tuned watch.) Xykon's response each time is to kill the wizard.
- A goblin calls Durkon short. He casts Thor's Might, going up two size categories and towering over the goblin.
- In Far Out, the amnesiac robot is taunted with his not laughing now.
- In Narbonic, Helen notes that one of the things which causes the actual 'breakout' stage of Walton's Disorder is 'the laughter of fools'. Usually, those fools at the institute. Madblood laughs at Dave right before the story's climax, and in the filename story, Mr. Winter laughs at Helen before her breakdown.
- In Worm, this is subverted by Taylor, whose descent into villainy the local heroes are largely responsible for, due to a combination of neglect, arrogance, and covering for the crimes of Shadow Stalker in her civilian identity. In spite of this, Taylor considers her career as a villain to be mostly her own doing:
Skitter:Id say you have nobody to blame but yourselves for the fact that you have me to deal with, but Im willing to admit Im largely at fault for the decisions I made. You guys you just greased the wheels, I suppose.
- Lee Phillips from KateModern is constantly bullied by Gavin and Tariq, which is played for laughs. However, Gavin goes too far in "Subservient Lee", and Lee runs off with the software Gavin and Tariq were developing in the following video, "The Leak". Lee only becomes an enemy of Gavin and Tariq, on whom he wants revenge; he remains amiable enough towards the other characters, and is portrayed largely sympathetically from then on.
- The character codenamed Aries at the Super Hero School Whateley Academy, in the Whateley Universe. He was bullied as a chubby kid who wasn't one of the townies. Then he got superpowers and went to Whateley, where he was bullied there for being a farm kid. However, his superpowers made him tall and handsome, as well as super-strong and super-fast (for the Whateley Universe). After he stomped a group of bullies by himself, the Big Bad drafted him as the new bully. He's really enjoying it, as far as we can tell.
- Recently, He's been mistreated by the bullies, causing him to ponder taking another route...Plus, he keeps getting recruited to aid the heroes.
- Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog uses this to awesome effect in "Brand New Day."
- The Duck Hunt Dog has laughed at your screwups once too often and is GOING DOWN!
- Because of such bad bullying over his similarities to Doug, The Nostalgia Critic has snapped and killed people, only realizing what occurred when he sees the blood on his hands.
- Matsuda in Death Note: The Abridged Series (kpts4tv): "WHO'S STUPID NOW, STUPID!"
- The Columbine High shooters are sometimes falsely portrayed as this. Many other school shooters, both before and after, were this trope to a T. There's also the 2007 Virginia Tech shooter Seung Hui Cho. His videos that he mailed to NBC directly stated that this was his motive.
- Countries often get a taste of this after being humiliated one time too many in the last war.
- Germany after WWI for example, was a broken nation, with the economy in shambles, the military in ruins, a new government forced upon the public, and national morale at an all time low. The victorious Allies were responsible for many of these, deliberately weakening Germany to prevent it rising again. Unfortunately, the Allies were conflicted in what should be done, resulting in the job only being half-done; what they did was enough to anger the German people (who rallied for vengeance soon afterwards) but not enough to actually cripple Germany's ability to recover (not helping was that Germany wasn't allowed to join the negotiations due to losing World War 1). The results were, shall we say, unfortunate for everyone involved.
- Invoked by The Economist on the subject of NATO intervention in Libya's civil war:
The only European state pressing hard for air strikes in Libya is France, which has no bitter memories of foolish support for the invasion of Iraq because France opposed that invasion. Who's a cheese-eating surrender monkey now, eh?
- Before Sweden's game against England in the 2012 UEFA European Cup, the Swedish newspaper Aftonbladet did a mock-up of the Daily Mirror's front page◊ anticipating a heavy England defeat. Predictably, the final score was 3-2 to England.
- When Julius Caesar was a young man, he was once kidnapped and ransomed by pirates. During his captivity, Caesar told them that he will have them executed and they mocked him for what seemed a joke. After being freed, Caesar assembled a fleet, captured the pirates and carried out his threat.
- Machiavelli warned rulers against becoming victims of this trope. He wrote to never inflict "small injuries" against enemies because people will seek to avenge small injuries, but are unable to avenge large injuries. Kill or befriend, but never insult or humiliate. Similarly, his famous quote 'If one cannot be loved, be feared' often leaves off the last part of the quote, to 'avoid being hated,' to avoid what often happens when the people won't take it anymore.
- Grant Morrison invokes this in his notes for the 15th Anniversary edition to Arkham Asylum: A Serious House on Serious Earth. An early version of the script was passed around for people to look at and most of them balked at the attempt to integrate psychological horror and heavy symbolism. He then says, "Who's laughing now, asshole?"
- When the original Cleveland Browns became the Baltimore Ravens in 1996, Browns owner Art Modell was vilified by fans and the press as a "Judas" due to the Browns' storied past as an NFL franchise. One football analyst, ex-NFL tight end Bob Trumpy, was so incensed that he wished the Ravens "high winds and muddy fields ... empty roads to and from the ballpark ... cold hot dogs ... nothing but bad" in a 1996 NFL season preview for Inside Sports magazine. Still, the Ravens persevered through it all, and have often had the last laugh, with two Super Bowl wins, a Hall of Fame tackle in Jonathan Ogden, and a future Hall of Fame linebacker in Ray Lewis, both of whom were drafted by the Ravens and spent their entire careers with the team.
- Conversely, the expansion Cleveland Browns, who took over the original Browns' history and records in 1999, have been the Butt-Monkey of the NFL since their debut, with 24 different starting quarterbacks and nine head coaches (including the recently-hired Hue Jackson) in 17 seasons, one of which (2017) ended with the team not winning a single game, 0 for 16.
- Several years ago, Reed Hastings, the founder of online movie-streaming service Netflix, was laughed out of the room when he attempted to merge with Blockbuster Video. This would eventually lead to the latter's downfall.
- NBC Sports commentator Rowdy Gaines invoked this trope word-for-word when the United States beat an overconfident French team in the men's 4x100 freestyle swimming relay at the 2008 Summer Olympics.
- Nigel Farage, leader of the UKIP, and an outspoken supporter of Eurosceptism, invoked this in his address to the European Union after the success of the Brexit campaign.
Nigel Farage: Isn't it funny. You know when I came here 17 years ago, and I said I wanted to lead a campaign to get Britain to leave the European Union, you all laughed at me. Well. I have to say, you're not laughing now, are you?
- After Brexit, the UK will issue new passports that look like the pre-EU ones... made by a French company. Guess which side of the Channel had newspapers responding with this trope.
- Nearly all of Donald Trump's supporters invoked this after their candidate's victory in the 2016 United States elections.
- Likewise, Hillary Clinton's controversial history and a widespread perception of her as too Screw the Rules, I Have Connections!-happy made her opponents (rivals and voters alike) all too happy to invoke this after said Election, especially since most polls had seemingly predicted a Curb-Stomp Battle in her favor.
- This trope is why, in the military, you never ever ever piss off a cook, a supply tech, or a construction engineer. Finding yourself handed a cold military ration while everyone else is served real food or losing power or heat in your tent and being told "it won't be fixed for at least a week because supply needs to acquire parts" is bad enough, but remember they could also pull this on all your buddies as well...
- On a different note, this is why nations and armies are expected to follow certain laws and customs during warfare. Don't follow the rules and you're enemy will have no motivation to do the same, and will try to pay you back... with interest (and unfortunate consequences). We'll just leave it at that.