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"That man won't quit as long as he can still draw a breath. None of my teammates will. Me? I've got a different problem. I feel like I live in a world made of cardboard, always taking constant care not to break something, to break someone. Never allowing myself to lose control even for a moment, or someone could die. But you can take it, can't you, big man? What we have here is a rare opportunity for me to cut loose and show you just how powerful I really am."
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A fundamental part of telling a story is conflict: you want the hero to have their problems and, hopefully, overcome them in a satisfactory manner. In many cases, that conflict is entirely external; the Big Bad is plotting to Take Over the World or otherwise spill the blood of the innocent and The Hero is out to stop them. But there is also that conflict which is emotional; it exists in their mind and usually forms a mental block that they cannot break through.

A "World of Cardboard" speech is where the hero acknowledges that this mental block has been limiting them. And because of a recent personal revelation about themselves and/or their situation, they have found a way to excel past their previous limits. This is heavily dependent on the context of the story and the life of the character. Despite the room for variation, each speech has to follow the same pattern to be a world of cardboard speech: the hero is having trouble from an emotional/psychological viewpoint, the hero has a powerful revelation, and then they give the speech.

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In effect, this is a Eureka Moment that leads to a Heroic Resolve. The speech itself can vary depending on the revelation, but the crux of this revolves around the epiphany that the speech giver still has the power to effectively oppose their foe. Universal to all of these speeches is that realization and being subsequently empowered because of it. What happens after the speech is usually a case of The Gloves Come Off.

Because of how dependent it is on the individual character and story, the speech can overlap with any number of tropes, due to the context, and can come in many different variations:

Ultimately, the "World of Cardboard" Speech often ends up tying in to Character Development, offering direct verbal insight into their mind and/or explaining the overarching moral of the story. Because this is an epiphany the character had, it allows them to express themselves and draw the audience into their struggles.

Named for the popular scene from Justice League Unlimited featuring Superman. Fans have long complained about how widely his power level varies throughout The DCU. This speech has him explaining why he occasionally takes a beating, he is already so powerful he is worried of the harm that would happen if he gave it all he had.

Break Them by Talking is essentially the opposite of this, with a villain outlining the hero's flaws and effectively using it against them.

You can expect a Moment of Awesome if the villain attempts Break Them by Talking and the hero responds with a "World of Cardboard" Speech. The villain may respond with "This Is Gonna Suck."

Compare Right Makes Might, Rousing Speech, Heroic Second Wind, He's Back, Fridge Brilliance, Let's Get Dangerous!, Patrick Stewart Speech, and I Am Not Left-Handed.

Not to be confused with a literal World of Cardboard (and other materials). Unless the person giving the speech is a struggling jail warden or something like that, chances are this will have nothing to do with a Cardboard Prison. This is also not the same as the Cardboard World experienced by some LSD users according to Stanislav Grof; that would be more like a feeling that life itself is a Crappy Carnival.

By its nature, tends to be a climactic trope spoiling events of the story. Spoilers Beware.


Examples:

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    Comic Books 
  • Buffy Season Eight has this gem from Dracula after he loses his extra abilities. Toru intercepts his thrown sword, and Dracula takes it from him and slices him up while they exchange these words.
    Toru: Just like an old man. He needs his cane to stand. Doesn't know what to do with himself now that he's an ordinary vampire. Like the rest of us.
    Dracula: My boy... I was never an ordinary vampire. Or did you forget who I used to be? I've killed more men than God's plagues combined. And that was before I started eating people for fun. The fields of Europe used to steam with the blood of my enemies. Trust me... the vampire's the least of your concerns. It's the old man you need to worry about.
  • The Sandman:
    • Dream delivers one towards the end of The Kindly Ones, but it's an inversion: Dream does realize and vocalize his Fatal Flaw, but he's unable to do anything about it. It doesn't lead to Character Development, nor does it lead to Asskickery (even though, or perhaps especially because it could), and he knows it. Shortly after delivering the speech, Dream is dead because he can't break free of his own responsibility.
      Dream: Rules and responsibilities: these are the ties that bind us. We do what we do, because of who we are. If we did otherwise, we would not be ourselves. I will do what I have to do. And I will do what I must.
    • A more straightforward example would be in "Season of Mists", when he battles Azazel for the lives of Nada and Choronzon. Azazel reneges on his bargain to release them if he loses, only for Dream to explain that while they are in his realm, reality conforms to his wishes. He was honor-bound to treat Azazel (and his prisoners) as a guest when he entered the Dreaming, but after Azazel renounced Dream's hospitality, he had no such protection. As soon as Azazel reveals his intentions, he finds himself in a bottle in Dream's hands without his powers or prisoners.
  • The Mighty Thor Volume 3 Issue 3 has Thor searching for lost Asgardians after resetting Ragnarok. While in Katrina-ravaged New Orleans, Iron Man approaches him about having to register with the government... this being several months after Iron Man and Mr. Fantastic unleashed the robotic Thor clone that killed the second Goliath. Thor then decides to show just how insulted he was by initiating a Curb-Stomp Battle with Iron Man.
    [after Thor Mjölnirs Iron Man through a few buildings in one strike)
    Iron Man: Damn, that really... damn. You've... been... working out.
    Thor: No, there is only one difference. In this time and this place, I am no longer holding back
    [cue giant lightning bolt frying Iron Man's armor and Thor's Bring It speech]
  • Superman could be considered the king of this trope easily. His speeches at the end of the White Martian Invasion arc and the arc wherein Preus is introduced are damn near tear-jerking due to awesomeness alone.
  • The Flash:
    • The series had one of these during the classic "Return of Barry Allen" storyline. Up until then, the current Flash, Wally West, had been unable to run as fast as Barry Allen, his predecessor. He assumed it was just a natural limitation of his powers, even though he had run faster in the past, and other super-speedsters easily ran much faster than him. But when faced with an impostor who had impersonated his late mentor Barry Allen and ruined his good name, Flash broke his barrier in order to take the villain down. As it turned out, his speed limit had been subconscious; he was so scared of surpassing Barry (and thus replacing him) that he had throttled his own speed. After realizing this, Wally never had problems with speed limitations again.
    • A less intense example comes from The Flash: Rebirth, when Barry is running around, and Superman chases him.
      Superman: I've raced you before. I've even won some of those races.
      The Flash: Those were for charity, Clark. (Takes off in a sonic boom)
  • Syndablokk from Empowered gets one when he explains that his power causes nothing but collateral damage (he has elemental command of masonry and stonework). Being one of the (very) few decent heroes in this 'verse, he's extremely reluctant to use his ability unless the villain's already wrecked everything around him.
  • World War Hulk:
    • Not a speech, but when the Sentry finally showed up to face The Hulk, we get this exchange;
      Hulk: You don't want this fight, Sentry.
      Sentry: Yes. God help me, I do. Because you're the only one I can hit... LIKE THIS!
    • And just before, when the Hulk is about to give the thumbs up/thumbs down, the Sentry, on the other side of the country, listens, mimics the gesture.
      Sentry: You hear that, Bruce? It's time to play God.
  • An older example. Spider-Man, who was trying to take a break, gets annoyed when Ox of the Enforcers picked up the car he was in and tried to shake him out of it. Spider-Man explained how he usually pulls his punches to not kill people, but just realized Ox could probably take it before he punched him out.
  • Whenever The Kingpin was the featured villain of a story in the Silver Age, he usually gave one explaining his hidden muscle mass after someone mocked him for being "fat"; these speeches often came with demonstrations of power, with Fisk cracking his desk in half with one blow or soundly thrashing the person who'd laughed at him.
  • In Legacy, Cade gives a brief but powerful one during his Final Battle with Darth Krayt which acts as the culmination of his Character Development during the entire series.
    Cade: I know who I am, Krayt.
    [Cade effortlessly cuts down Krayt]
    Cade: I am a Jedi.
  • In Teen Titans, when Cassandra Sandsmark lost the powers Zeus gave her, Ares restored them. However, when she tried to fight Ares' evil son Lord Lycus, Lycus was able to drain the powers Ares gave her into himself. It is then that Cassie realizes all this time, she had been borrowing powers from others and not using her own innate powers as a demigod daughter of Zeus. Once she activates her innate powers, she proves far more powerful than Lycus.
  • X-Men member Rogue gives abridged versions of these speeches as her introduction. Her default power is to absorb the life-energy of anyone she touches along with an extra abilities like mutant powers. She also can't control this; anything more than the most glancing of touches will start the transfer, meaning she can't ever touch anyone. Really gives new meaning to the phrase "hurting the ones you love." Not that it ever stopped Gambit from trying, especially in the occasional instance where her powers were either dampened or she (for however long) had control of them.
  • Shadow the Hedgehog does this in Archie Comics' Sonic the Hedgehog. After spending some time as Dr. Eggman's sidekick, he learns that Eggman was holding back things on Professor Gerald Robotnik and his past. Once he learns the truth and being able to say goodbye to Maria, he easily puts Snively (who had came after Shadow since he stole his last strands of hair) in a Curb-Stomp Battle and tells the sniveling lackey to tell Eggman that he knows who he is and he can shove his evil ideals.
  • Secret Wars (2015) finally has Doctor Doom admit out loud that which he would have killed anyone else for saying, that Reed Richards is his better.
    Doom: It's the same thing it's always been between you and I... YOU THINK YOU ARE BETTER THAN I AM.
    Reed: No, Victor. You're wrong. I've always believed you could be better than what you are.
    Doom: No. I mean NOW. This moment. If you had this power, you think you could have solved it all — solved everything... You think you could have done SO... MUCH... BETTER... DON'T YOU? DON'T YOU?!
    Reed: Yes. And we both know it, don't we?
    Doom: Yes, damn you...NOW DIE!

    Films — Animation 
  • In Kung Fu Panda, Po learned that the duty of The Chosen One was to fight Tai Lung and was terrified, as despite all the strides he made as a martial artist he didn't believe in himself. The Dragon Scroll was revealed to be blank but shiny, a reveal that took Po some time to comprehend. There is no "secret ingredient," your strength comes from your own effort and not some outside power. Since Tai Lung spent his life desiring the secret of the scroll and became a bad guy over it, it becomes a Breaking Speech that lets Po get the upper hand against him.
    Tai Lung: You cannot defeat me. You... you're just a big... fat... panda!
    Po: I'm not a big fat panda. I'm the big fat panda.
  • Tiana's speech to Facilier in The Princess and the Frog when he tries to lure her by material want rather than the love she always had.
    Tiana: My daddy never did get what he wanted...but he had what he needed! He had love! He never lost sight of what was really important!
    Dr. Facilier: Easy with that thing! Careful!
    Tiana: AND NEITHER! WILL! I!
  • Frozen: "Let It Go" serves as one for Elsa expressed through Awesome Music. Having spent most of her life concealing her ice powers, she is discovered and runs from her kingdom. Once she realizes she has nothing to fear and no one to accidentally hurt, "Let It Go" comes on and she starts using her powers to their full extent, creating snow creatures, a new wardrobe, and an enormous castle. In some ways, it is a subversion, though, as even when using the full range of her powers she still did not have full control and traded one form of isolation for another, and accidentally injured her sister Anna. When Anna sacrificed herself to save Elsa, and in turn her love for her sister was enough to reverse the effects of the frozen heart, Elsa realized that "Love can thaw a frozen heart" and she gained full control of her powers, finally able to reverse the eternal winter at will.
  • A Bug's Life: During the climax of the film, Flik gives one to Hopper in response to his statement that the ants are just lowly life forms who are meant to serve grasshoppers, having realized that Hopper keeps bullying the ants and trying to keep them under his thumb because he's actually afraid of them and are well aware of what they're capable of. The ants quickly realize Flik's right and are galvanized into beating Hopper and his men back.
    Flik: Ants are not meant to serve grasshoppers. I've seen these ants do great things... and year after year, they somehow manage to pick enough food for themselves and you. So who's the weaker species? Ants don't serve grasshoppers! It's you who need us! We're a lot stronger than you say we are. And you know it... don't you?

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle has Harold's tirade to his coworkers at the end.
  • The Hustler makes it clear from the beginning that although Fast Eddie is a talented pool player, his attitude is holding him back. It's no surprise that he eventually gets his World of Cardboard Speech. Now, how he gets it, on the other hand...
  • At the end of Serenity, River admits to Simon as he lies dying from a gunshot to the stomach that she understands that she's always relied on him and the rest of the crew to take care of her through her helpless madness. Then, she adds that now, it is her turn to take care of them. Cue awesome.
  • Jules' coffee-shop speech near the end of Pulp Fiction:
    There's a passage I got memorized. Ezekiel 25:17. "The path of the righteous man is beset on all sides by the inequities of the selfish and the tyranny of evil men. Blessed is he who, in the name of charity and good will, shepherds the weak through the valley of the darkness, for he is truly his brother's keeper and the finder of lost children. And I will strike down upon thee with great vengeance and furious anger those who attempt to poison and destroy My brothers. And you will know I am the Lord when I lay My vengeance upon you." Now... I been sayin' that shit for years. And if you ever heard it, that meant your ass. You'd be dead right now. I never gave much thought to what it meant. I just thought it was a cold-blooded thing to say to a motherfucker before I popped a cap in his ass. But I saw some shit this mornin' made me think twice. See, now I'm thinking: maybe it means you're the evil man. And I'm the righteous man. And Mr. 9mm here... he's the shepherd protecting my righteous ass in the valley of darkness. Or it could mean you're the righteous man and I'm the shepherd and it's the world that's evil and selfish. And I'd like that. But that shit ain't the truth. The truth is you're the weak. And I'm the tyranny of evil men. But I'm tryin', Ringo. I'm tryin' real hard to be the shepherd.
  • Shadow of a Doubt:
    • Uncle Charlie's unspeakably evil "this world is a hell" speech:
      Charlie: You think you know something, don't you? You think you're the clever little girl who knows something. There's so much you don't know, so much. What do you know, really? You're just an ordinary little girl, living in an ordinary little town. You wake up every morning of your life and you know perfectly well that there's nothing in the world to trouble you. You go through your ordinary little day, and at night you sleep your untroubled ordinary little sleep, filled with peaceful stupid dreams. And I brought you nightmares. Or did I? Or was it a silly, inexpert little lie? You live in a dream. You're a sleepwalker, blind. How do you know what the world is like? Do you know the world is a foul sty? Do you know, if you rip off the fronts of houses, you'd find swine? The world's a hell. What does it matter what happens in it? Wake up, Charlie. Use your wits. Learn something.
    • This speech is actually pretty tragic, because of Uncle Charlie's optimistic youth; it is also a turning point for Little Charlie, as she goes from optimism to seeing the world as a foul, hypocritical place.
  • In The Karate Kid Daniel took an injury to his leg, leaving him out of the final match. Everyone said that Daniel did great and shouldn't think that removing himself because of such an injury is a sign of weakness. Daniel makes a plea to Miyagi that even though he almost made it to the tournament finals if he didn't face Johnny in the final match he would never have balance with the Cobra guys or in his relationship with Ally, or in himself. That was an effective lesson to Miyagi that his student finally understood his training.
  • In The Matrix Revolutions, Neo gives a rather brief, but effective, one to Smith, when the latter demands to know why Neo persists in fighting him.
    Neo: Because I choose to.
  • Labyrinth. "For my will is as strong as yours, and my kingdom as great — You have no power over me!"
  • Jack Skellington sings one of these near the end of The Nightmare Before Christmas, in the song "Poor Jack." He is having a Heroic BSoD about his failure to bring about Christmas, starts reprising Jack's Lament, starting with the line "I, Jack, the Pumpkin King"... then remembers that, yes, he is the Pumpkin King, and will work hard on making next Halloween even better. It also has Jack realizing while what happened didn't go as planned, he gave it his all and there were still good parts to it. While he screwed up he wouldn't regret what he did because it was still worth the problems.
  • Mark "Rent" Renton gets one at the end of the adaptation of Trainspotting. It's the closing monologue to the film that closely mirrors his opening monologue.
  • The Lord of the Rings film series:
    • The Two Towers:
      Sam: I know. It's all wrong. By rights we shouldn't even be here. But we are. It's like in the great stories, Mr. Frodo; the ones that really mattered. Full of darkness and danger, they were. And sometimes you didn't want to know the end... because how could the end be happy? How could the world go back to the way it was, when so much bad had happened? But in the end, it's only a passing thing, this shadow. Even darkness must pass. A new day will come. And when the sun shines, it will shine out the clearer. Those were the stories that stayed with you, that meant something, even if you were too small to understand why. But I think, Mr. Frodo, I do understand. I know now. Folk in those stories had lots of chances of turning back, only they didn't. They kept going... because they were holding on to something
      Frodo: What are we holding on to, Sam?
      Sam: That there's some good in this world, Mr. Frodo. And it's worth fighting for.
    • And at the climax of The Return of the King, given by Sam:
      Sam: Do you remember the Shire, Mr. Frodo? It'll be spring soon. And the orchards will be in blossom. And the birds will be nesting in the hazel thicket. And they'll be sowing the summer barley in the lower fields and eating the first of the strawberries with cream. Do you remember the taste of strawberries?
      Frodo: No, Sam. I can't recall the taste of food, nor the sound of water, nor the touch of grass. I'm naked in the dark, with nothing, no veil between me and the wheel of fire! I can see him... with my waking eyes!
      Sam: Then let us be rid of it, once and for all! Come on, Mr. Frodo. I can't carry it for you... but I can carry you!
  • Taylor Reese has one in Knockaround Guys:
    Taylor: Five hundred fights. That's the number I figured when I was a kid. Five hundred street fights and you could consider yourself a legitimate tough guy. You need them for experience. To develop leather skin. So I got started. Of course along the way you stop thinking about being tough and all that. It stops being the point. You get past the silliness of it all. But then, after, you realize that's what you are. You learn a lot of things on the way to five hundred. None more important than this. [headbutt]
  • Villainous example in Last Action Hero.
    Benedict: Gentlemen. Since you are about to die anyway, I may as well tell you the entire plot. Think of villains, Jack. You want Dracula? Dra-cool-la? Hang on, [takes out the ticket] I'll fetch him. Dracula? Huh. I can get King Kong! We'll have a nightmare with Freddy Krueger, have a surprise party for Adolf Hitler; Hannibal Lecter can do the catering, and then we'll have a christening for Rosemary's Baby! All I have to do is snap my fingers and they'll be here. They're lining up to get here, and do you know why Jack? Should I tell you why? Hmm? Because here, in this world, the bad guys can win!
  • The final battle in 8 Mile is B. Rabbit making one giant "World of Cardboard" Speech in free style form.
  • Inception has an interesting version of this, in that the emotional conflict and the physical conflict are the same thing, through the character of Mal. It is an interesting version of the relationship between the physical/emotional conflict, but the "World of Cardboard" Speech comes in this dialog:
    Cobb: I can't stay with her anymore because she doesn't exist.
    Mal: I'm the only thing you do believe in anymore.
    Cobb: I wish...I wish more than anything, but I can't imagine you with all your complexity, all your perfection, all your imperfection. Look at you, you're just a shade. You're just a shade of my real wife. You're the best I could do, but...I'm sorry, you're just not good enough.
  • At the climax of The Prestige, Angier delivers one of these, also a Final Speech.
    Angier: You never understood... why we did this. The audience knows the truth. The world is simple, miserable, solid all the way through. But if you can fool them, even for a second... then you can make them wonder. And you get to see something very special. ... You really don't know. ... It was the look on their faces.
  • Watchmen has Dr. Manhattan recite one to Ozymandias towards the end after Ozymandias attempted to kill him by tricking him into going through the same accident that turned him into Dr. Manhattan in the first place, and thought he succeeded.
    Manhattan: I'm disappointed in you, Adrian. Do you really think you can kill me? Reassembling myself was the first trick I learned. It didn't kill Osterman... did you really think it would kill me? I have walked across the surface of the Sun. I have witnessed events so tiny and so fast they can hardly be said to have occurred at all. But you, Adrian, you're just a man. The world's smartest man poses no more threat to me than does its smartest termite.
  • A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984). "I take back every bit of energy I ever gave you. You're nothing, Freddy. You're shit."
  • Return of the Jedi:
  • Batman gets one at the end of Batman Forever.
    Batman: I'm both Bruce Wayne and Batman. Not because I have to be. Now, because I choose to be.
  • At the end of Terminator 2: Judgment Day Sarah Connor gave an epilogue that showed where both she and John Connor had changed over the course of the movie. The entire time they were thinking that Judgement Day was inevitable and that all machines were the enemy, when they were surprised by the compassion shown by the terminator sent to protect them. It ends up overlapping with a Patrick Stewart Speech.
    Sarah: The unknown future rolls toward us. I face it for the first time with a sense of hope... because if a machine, a Terminator, can learn the value of human life... maybe we can too.
  • Harry Potter: Neville Longbottom gets a particularly Badass one in the eighth movie when he's invoking As Long as There is One Man:
    Neville Longbottom: It doesn't matter that Harry's gone. People die every day! Friends, family. Yeah, we lost Harry tonight. He's still with us, in here. So's Fred, Remus. Tonks, all of them. They didn't die in vain. But you will! Because you're wrong! Harry's heart did beat for us! For all of us! It's not over!
  • Hal Jordan in the Green Lantern movie has one when he talks to the Guardians just before the climax. He was told that he was given the ring because he embodies the Corp ideal of being fearless, but he constantly doubts himself because he knows full well what he is afraid of and refuses to share them. When confronted with Parallax coming to destroy Earth, Carol told him that he isn't fearless, but courageous. He can overcome fear. This made him realize why the Corp had so much trouble with Parallax, they were "too afraid to admit they were afraid." Talking to the Guardians, he confessed his human weakness and explained that overcoming fear is the key to beat Parallax.
  • This one from Billy Jack:
    Billy: Bernard, I want you to know... that I try. When Jean and the kids at the school tell me that I'm supposed to control my violent temper, and be passive and nonviolent like they are, I try. I really try. Though when I see this girl... of such a beautiful spirit... so degraded... and this boy... that I love... sprawled out by this big ape here... and this little girl, who is so special to us we call her "God's little gift of sunshine"... and I think of the number of years that she's going to have to carry in her memory... the savagery of this idiotic moment of yours... I just go BERSERK! [cue Curb-Stomp Battle]
  • At the end of Ben Wheatley's trippy historical thriller A Field in England, the cowardly, obsequious Whitehead gets one as he's being hunted by the intimidating alchemist O'Neill.
    O'Neil: You cannot escape the field, Whitehead!
    Whitehead: Then I shall become it! I shall consume all the ill fortune which you are set to unleash. I shall chew up all the selfish scheming and ill intentions that men like you force upon men like me, and bury it in the stomach of this place!
  • In The Avengers (2012), after having people walk eggshells around him to avoid provoking him for the entire movie , Dr. Bruce Banner finally gets asked to 'get angry' so that his alter ego can help fight off an alien invasion. His response?
    Bruce Banner: I'm always angry (Hulks out in less than a second and punches a space whale in the schnozz, stopping it dead in its tracks)
  • Avengers: Age of Ultron has one where requesting the other person to drop the mental block: Hawkeye sums up to Scarlet Witch how the odds are all against them, but he'll keep on fighting, so it's better that she drops her reluctance, and becomes an Avenger. It works.
    Hawkeye: Hey, it's your fault, it's everyone's fault, who cares? Are you up for this? Are you? Look, I just need to know because the city is, is flying. Look, the city's flying, we're fighting an army of robots, and I have a bow and arrow. None of this makes sense, but I'm going back out there because it's my job, and I can't do my job and babysit. It doesn't matter what you did or what you were; you go out there, you fight, and you fight to kill. You stay in here, you're good. I'll send your brother to come find you. But if you step out that door, you are an Avenger.
  • Captain America: Civil War: After confronting Zemo outside the base where the other Winter Soldiers were held, Black Panther comes to this conclusion.
    T'challa: Vengeance has consumed you. It's consuming them (Cap, Tony, and Bucky). I'm done letting it consume me.
  • Mr. Smith Goes to Washington: By the end of the movie, Smith is barely standing, public opinion has been turned against him in his own state, his newspaper has been shut down by Taylor's goons, and he's about to face expulsion. But even then, he stands his ground.
  • In Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, Bruce attends Clark's funeral in Smallville and ends up talking to Diana about how badly he screwed up. He promises to live up to Superman's ideal and wants to find the other metahumans and bring them together. Diana is uncertain that will work because she has a low opinion of humanity, while Bruce asserts that "Men are still good."
    Bruce: The circus back east is burying an empty box.
    Diana: They don't know how to honor him, except as a soldier.
    Bruce: I failed him in life, I won't fail him in death. Help me find the others like you.
    Diana: Perhaps they don't want to be found.
    Bruce: They will, and they'll fight. We have to stand together.
    Diana: A hundred years ago I walked away from mankind, from a century of horrors. Man made a world where standing together is impossible.
    Bruce: Men are still good. We fight, we kill, we betray one another. But we can rebuild. We can do better. We will. We have to.

    Literature 
  • Sondra Marshak and Myrna Culbreath's published Star Trek novel The Prometheus Design is all about Spock doing the "shouldn't hold back" type, encouraged by the legendary Vulcan explorer Savaj to accept and embrace his inner Badass. It seems that Vulcans have all kindsa super powersnote  and badass abilities, but Spock, living among Puny Earthlings as he does, doesn't want to acknowledge his. According to the authors, Canon Spock was an extremely watered-down version of what he and Vulcans are really capable of. Pick up a copy of — well, any of Marshak and Culbreath's published Star Trek novels, or go read anything in the ''Kraith'' series starting with Volume Four which was where Marshak came on board the writing teamnote . Marshak just loves this trope.
  • In Harrison Bergeron, Harrison goes down to the TV station, and before he takes off his handicaps, says "even as I stand here — crippled, hobbled, sickened — I am a greater ruler than any man who ever lived! Now watch me become what I can become!" And then it's all heavily subverted when he promptly becomes a corpse, thanks to a dictatorial surgeon general armed with a shotgun.
  • In Tales of an Mazing Girl gives one to as a reason of why she doesn't kill-and thus is better then him. Shes glad her very conservative Uncle isn't present though.
  • Discworld:
    • In Lords and Ladies, Granny Weatherwax gives the Queen of the Elves one of these when she explains why she's better than her.
    • Even closer example: the all-powerful Coin, from Sourcery, describes living in the fragile world of non-sourcerers as "like trying to sleep on a bed of eggs". It's implied that all such sourcerers eventually feel obliged to leave the Discworld's reality to avert living in a World of Cardboard. He is, though, also a bit more literal about it: Magic is anti-reality. Whenever he uses too much of it, things that are as natural to him as breathing, he thins the world that much more - and when the world gets too thin, the things outside want to get in.
  • Bill Fitzhugh's Pest Control has this when Bob and Klaus are cornered by an armed assassin. Klaus says they need a weapon. Then a lightbulb goes off in Bob's head, and Klaus actually watches his shoulders square with Heroic Resolve as he declares that the entire city of New York is a weapon, and then proves it by killing their pursuer by running through a few restauraunts. Any further detail would spoil the book, so I'll just say it makes Jason Bourne look like a putz.
  • While not a Villain per se, Tyburn in Rivers of London was an interfering bitch who was determined to crush the protagonist for her own political ends. When she gives him a "Reason You Suck" Speech about how useless he is and how easy it was to stop him, Peter Grant's comeback is awesome. Made doubly so because he totally owns her in front of her entire family of river spirits causing matriarch Mama Thames to applaud him for doing so.
  • In the Vampire: The Requiem supplement "Danse Macabre," a wonderful story of the Chicago vampires running in bits between the chapters climaxes with an antiheroic version of this. Prince Maxwell Clarke confesses to the diablerie of Norris Spiegel in a scene that's half "World of Cardboard" Speech and half "Reason You Suck" Speech adding up to a Moment of Awesome as he shares a recent revelation: He's truly sick of pushing himself to his limits keeping the city safe for a bunch of ingrates who use that safety to plot against him and abuse and mock him for his efforts to keep the peace. The speech goes on a while and is interrupted a couple of times, but this excerpt sums it up nicely:
    Prince Clarke: I'm tired of being lobbied, taken for granted and schemed against. I am now, officially, a tyrant. You all knew I'd ignore my own laws, Persephone here proved that, and I'm sick of the pretense. I get to do whatever I want. You don't. You don't Embrace, you don't kill one another, you sure as hell don't commit diablerie, but if I feel like it, I can do any of that. I think you'll put up with it, I really do. Because the alternatives are worse. Because in my tenure, I've run this city better than any Prince anyone can remember. Because with me, Chicago works. If you don't agree? Think you can do better? All right, try to upset the apple cart. Just remember Norris. He had half of us blackmailed, he was old and smart and had a legion of spies behind him. Look where he ended up.
  • In Perelandra, although he doesn't actually make a speech, Ransom gets physical on the Un-Man, once a fellow professor before he was possessed by a Demon. The realization that he can actively hate this enemy (being ultimately a thoroughly evil superhuman being) without the usual guilt or conflicted feeling unexpectedly makes him capable of terrible things.
  • In John Dies at the End, Dave becomes determined to save Amy, a girl being victimized by the same supernatural forces that he is. After a narrow escape from the shadow men pursuing her, and after opening up to her about his Dark and Troubled Past, he puts his foot down:
    Dave: We have no idea what they were doing to you, Amy, when those things took you all of those times. But they're not going to do it again. This being scared bullshit, it's exhausting for me. And you know, I reach a point where I say, you can kill me or tear off my arms or soak me in gasoline and set me on fire, but you won't keep me like this, imprisoned by fear. Now, after everything I've seen, I'm not really scared of monsters and demons and whatever they are. I'm only scared of one thing and that's the fear. Living with that fear, that intimidation. A boot on my neck. I won't live like that. I won't. I wouldn't then and I won't now.
  • In The Hollows novel The Undead Pool, the elf community has turned on Trent, and his businesses are taking a hit due to his ex-fiance Ellasbeth leaking information about them. She attempts to forcibly take custody of their daughters, and it doesn't go at all well for her. In the aftermath:
    Trent: Birthright is given. Power is earned. I still have it, and it is growing, not failing. This lost wealth will strip the dross from me and show what I am. This union between me and demons proves my foresight and courage. The girls are mine. I'm still willing to allow you to see them because I have felt the pain of being apart and it was almost too much to bear, but if you try to take them again, I will come down on you with everything I have. Do not push it, Ellasbeth. You've not seen the depths of what I'm capable of.
  • Journey to Chaos:
    • For all of A Mage's Power, Eric lacked confidence in his own abilities and leaned heavily on the spirit of Dengel as a Heroic Host. When they have a falling out, Eric musters the courage to confront him, and once he is victorius, he announces that he doesn't need Dengel anymore. He will face the future on his own strength alone.
      Eric: I don't need your power. I don't need your encouragement. I don't need you. Now begone.
    • Tiza has suffered amensia for years before the series began. It causes her confusion about her past and identity. Then she meets Haburt, whom she's subconsciously terrified of but she refuses to admit to it. When he makes his move and recreates a crucial momment from her past, she admits to this fear and steps forward confidently to overcome it. Then he sheds light on her past and tells her the identity of her parents.
  • The crucial final exchange between Meursault and the Priest in Albert Camus' The Stranger. According to him, the world is a cardboard:
    Meursault: From the dark horizon of my future a sort of slow, persistent breeze had been blowing toward me, all my life long, from the years that were to come. And on its way that breeze had leveled out all the ideas that people tried to foist on me in the equally unreal years I then was living through. What difference could they make to me, the deaths of others, or a mother's love, or his God; or the way a man decides to live, the fate he thinks he chooses, since one and the same fate was bound to “choose” not only me but thousands of millions of privileged people who, like him, called themselves my brothers. Surely, surely he must see that? Every man alive was privileged; there was only one class of men, the privileged class. All alike would be condemned to die one day; his turn, too, would come like the others.
  • In Honorverse commodore Sir Aivars Terekhov's Pre-Mortem One-Liner towards brigadier Francisca Yucel combines a Kirk Summation with The Reason You Suck and an internal epiphany: long wrought by his Survivor Guilt towards the subordinates he had lost because he thought he wasn't good (or ruthless — this comes up later) enough, and tortured with the moral responsibility for the orders that would make thousands dead, Terekhov finally comes to realization that, yes, he is ruthless, but that's okay — so long as there are people in the world like brigadier Yucel, who are fine to vent on.
    "Why is it," Terekhov asked conversationally, "that people like you always think you're more ruthless than people like me?"
  • Silence by Shusako Endo is a Historical Fiction novel dealing with persecutions of Japanese Christian in the 1600s by the Shogunate. The lead character, Fr. Rodrigo is wracked by the "silence of God" in the face of the sufferings undergone by the faithful and the ineffectiveness of any attempts at martyrdom. Eventually, he apostasizes to prevent the sufferings of other captives and yet another apostate comes to him and treats him like a priest, insisting that they apostasized because they were weak and not strong, but they did not suffer the less for being so. This leads him to an epiphany where the act of compassion towards other people's sufferings and the capacity to share other people's pain is by itself proof of God:
    Fr. Rodrigo: Even now I am the last priest in this land. But Our Lord was not silent. Even if he had been silent, my life until this day would have spoken of him.
  • Oathbringer (third book of The Stormlight Archive): Odium tries to convince Dalinar that he drove Dalinar to commit the war crimes that turned him into a Broken Ace, seeking to leverage this surrender of agency into full-fledged control. Dalinar refuses to give in, declaring that atoning for the atrocities he committed turned him into the man he is today.
    Dalinar: Journey before destination. It cannot be a journey if it doesn't have a beginning.

    Music 
  • Queen's “We are the Champions” is entirely this trope
    I've paid my dues time after time
    I've done my sentence but committed no crime
    And bad mistakes I've made a few
    I've had my share of sand kicked in my face
    But I've come through! (And we mean to go on and on and)
    We are the champions, my friends
    And we'll keep on fighting til the end
  • Eminem:
    • The last verse in "Lose Yourself":
      No more games, I'ma change what you call rage
      Tear this motherfucking roof off like two dogs caged
      I was playing in the beginning, the mood all changed
      I been chewed up and spit out and booed off stage
    • "Not Afraid":
      And I just can't keep living this way
      So starting today, I'm breaking out of this cage
      I'm standing up, Imma face my demons
      I'm manning up, Imma hold my ground
      I've had enough, now I'm so fed up
      Time to put my life back together right now
  • The title song from Kamelot's concept album The Black Halo. Ariel finally defies Mephisto and declares that he no longer fears damnation. This leads him to finally come to the realization that he is the master of his own destiny, and that love is the truth he had been searching for all along.
  • Year Zero by Nine Inch Nails: "The Great Destroyer" has a speech like that printed in the liner notes: "I hope they cannot see the limitless potential / living inside of me to murder everything / I hope they cannot see I am the GREAT DESTROYERRRRRR..." Coming out of the guy who created The Downward Spiral and wallowed in angst and depravity for much of The '90s, this is kind of a triumphant moment for Trent Reznor.
  • Kansas' "Carry On Wayward Son" is basically a musical version of this trope.
  • Wiccan singer/songwriter Leigh-Anne Hussey sang in "The Burning Times" that she will not answer hate with fear, rage, or "a smug cheek-turning love"; by strength alone will she not be moved.
  • The Galileo 7 song Running with Scissors invokes this image as well.
    And I'm running with scissors, in a world made of paper and paste
    Nothing can stop me, no one can stand in my way

    Pro Wrestling 
  • Shawn Michaels to Chris Jericho, WWE RAW, 1-Sep-2008:
    Shawn Michaels: I take comfort in the fact that your wife and children won't be watching. Mine won't, either. But someday... someday I'm gonna tell them about all of this. I'm gonna tell them of the day when their father was this close to walking away... and, although it's considered a strength to turn the other cheek, sometimes you've got to look evil right in the face and spit in its eye! All the pain, all the suffering that you have put me through is gonna rain down on you at Unforgiven, and it is gonna rain down on you with absolutely no remorse. I will never apologize for the man that I am or the life that I have lived. And I'm going to have no regrets about what happens to you. Unforgiven... it's an appropriate name, isn't it Chris? Because I will never forgive you for what you've done to me. My only hope is that, someday, God can forgive me for what I do to you!
  • On the 1-Aug-2008 episode of WWE SmackDown!, Edge managed to give a World of Cardboard Speech in two words... "I understand!" All the more impressive considering he pulled off the entire World Of Cardboard motif as a Heel.
  • The Rock's last promo at Wrestlemania XIX.
  • From TNA's 12/2/10 episode.
    Winter: [to Angelina Love] There's nothing wrong with you Angelina. In fact, you're perfect. But you don't have to worry. Now that we're together, we will never have to lose again. I guarantee that. WE. WILL. NEVER. LOSE.
  • On TNA's April 14, 2011 edition, Mickie James confronts her archenemy Madison Rayne, who the previous week hit her with Tara's motorcycle. She gives her own speech, telling Madison that while she has been making her life a living hell, the previous week she went too far and tried to take the coward's way out of their match. She then states that nothing, including her dislocated shoulder, will stop her from beating Madison to within an inch of her life at Lockdown. And she meant every word, completely destroying Madison at Lockdown in 36 seconds. Deserves special mention for Mickie's completely badass delivery of the speech.
  • Kelly Kelly of all people delivered one to Natalya at the commentary table. Natalya and Beth Phoenix had vowed to destroy her because they felt she and the rest of the model Divas weren't worthy of being in WWE. Kelly responded by asking Natalya what she was saving the WWE Universe from, and that she had already proved herself by beating Beth at SummerSlam and would do so again if Beth became the #1 contender (Beth did and Kelly did).
  • On 6/27/11, CM Punk delivered arguably the best worked shoot of the modern wrestling era to John Cena, now retroactively dubbed the "Pipe Bomb" promo but at the time was known as the WWE version of the Summer of Punk. It was his Austin 3:16. His Hard Times Promo. His To Be THE Man Promo.
    Punk: I hate this idea that you're (John Cena) the best. Because you're not. I'm the best. I'm the best in the world. There's one thing you're better at than I am and that's kissing Vince McMahon's ass. [[...]] I am the best wrestler in the world. I've been the best since day one when I walked into this company. And I've been vilified and hated since that day because Paul Heyman saw something in me that nobody else wanted to admit. That's right, I'm a Paul Heyman guy. You know who else was a Paul Heyman guy? Brock Lesnar. And he split just like I'm splitting. But the biggest difference between me and Brock is I'm going to leave with the WWE Championship. I've grabbed so many of Vincent K. McMahon's brass rings that it's finally dawned on me that they're just that, they're completely imaginary. The only thing that's real is me and the fact that day in and day out, for almost six years, I have proved to everybody in the world that I am the best on this microphone, in that ring, even in commentary! Nobody can touch me!
  • The Miz of all people delivered one to Daniel Bryan on the Talking Smack talk show after Bryan accuses him of wrestling the soft WWE style like a coward. It was so good, smarks couldn't decide if it's a work, a shoot, or both.
    Miz: Let me tell you about a coward! Let me tell you about a guy who tells his WWE fans, people that he loves that he will be back — he PROMISES THEM! — "I promise you, I will be back in one year's time to claim this (Intercontinental) title!" But you didn't, Daniel, did you? But I'm the coward. I'm the one who doesn't love the fans.
    Bryan: If they would let me come back, I would come back.
    Miz: Oh you would? You love that WWE ring, you love wrestling. You love being right in that wrestling ring and you love wrestling, right? Well why don't you quit? Why don't you quit and go to the bingo halls with your indie friends, then?
    Renee Young: I think you need to calm— That's not what this show's about!
    Miz: No, no, I got this! Me and the GM have this. Thank you very much, Renee, this is is a great show, but we're talking here. I need to talk to you (Bryan) real quick, because the fact is you're the one who calls me the coward, but you're the one that doesn't get in the WWE ring again.
    [Bryan gets up and walks off]
    Miz: No! Don't you walk away from me, Daniel. Don't you walk away! I'm the one that loves the fans. I'm the one who loves everyone and everything. You're the one that gets up and walks away, every single time! You're the coward! I am not a coward! I am your Intercontinental Champion...
    [Miz picks up his Intercontinental Championship and holds it next to his head]
    Miz: ...and there is a reason I am making this the most relevant, prestigious title the WWE has, and I deserve the respect on SmackDown Live!
    Renee: Okay. Okay!
    Miz: Get that camera right here. Get that camera right here.
    [Renee throws her hands up in resignation, while Miz looks straight at the hard camera]
    Miz: Understand that this is day 141 of the Never-Ending Intercontinental Championship World Tour, and I swear to you, I promise you, it will be the most relevant title on SmackDown Live. I could care less about those little kids out for the Tag Team Titles, and the Women's Championship, and the WWE Championship. This is my show. MY show! And I'm sick of all of you, my GM, sitting there criticizing me, calling me the coward! YOU'RE the cowards! I'm the one here, day in and day out, in that wrestling ring, beating people up. Thank you! Very! Much!

    Tabletop Games 

    Theatre 
  • In Anyone Can Whistle, after J. Bowden Hapgood refuses to help Nurse Faye Apple tackle the corrupt town administration and reveal that the "miracle" is a fake, she admits her limitations - and her intention of overcoming them — in "See What It Gets You:"
    And when the hero quits,
    Then you're left on your own.
    And when you want things done,
    You have to do them yourself alone!
    And if I'm not ready
    And lightheaded,
    I can't stand here dumb.
    So, ready or not, here — I hope — I come!
  • In Macbeth, Malcolm is joined by Macduff, who left Scotland for England to seek aid from King Edward the Confessor and form an allegiance with Northumberland and Lord Siward. Malcolm fears that he would surpass Macbeth in wickedness, greed, lust, and a yearning for lands in addition to his apparent lack of graces, when Macduff reproves him and mentions that his mother and Duncan were more virtuous in raising Malcolm than Macbeth could ever be. Malcolm's speech was a Secret Test of Character to show his virtuous nature and readiness to help restore the Scottish throne from Macbeth's tyranny.
  • "Rose's Turn" from Gypsy is the definitive musical theater example. It isn't addressed to any visible character, but with lyrics like these, an on-stage audience isn't necessary:
    Well, someone tell me when is it my turn?
    Don't I get a dream for myself?
    Startin' now it's gonna be my turn!
    Gangway, world, get off-a my runway!
    Startin' now, I bat a thousand!
    This time, boys, I'm taking the bows — and
    Ev'rything's coming up Rose!
    Ev'rything's coming up roses!
    Ev'rything's coming up roses, this time for me!
  • Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street has not one but two dark versions of this: the first, "My Friends", when Todd rediscovers his razors and formulates his exact revenge upon the Judge; and the second, "Epiphany", when Todd's mind cracks and he becomes the mass-murdering pie-meat supplier of legend.
  • Elphaba's Defying Gravity from Wicked overlaps with I Am What I Am.
  • The Lion in Winter:
    • About halfway through the play Prince Philip has a No, Mister Bond, I Expect You to Dine moment with King Henry — and three other people who happen to be listening in — revealing he is nowhere near as delicate or naive as he looks, seemingly proving himself a cunning adversary. Just when you think Philip's achieved his Moment of Awesome, Henry promptly demonstrates why Philip sucks.
      Henry: I found out the way your mind works and the kind of man you are. I know your plans and expectations - you've burbled every bit of strategy you've got. I know exactly what you will do, and exactly what you won't, and I've told you exactly nothing. To these aged eyes, boy, that's what WINNING looks like!
    • Henry has the upper hand, right? Wrong. Philip launches into his "World of Cardboard" Speech and plays the people hiding in the room against him.
  • "Being Alive" from Company can be seen as this for Bobby, as he finally admits that "alone is alone, not alive" and becomes ready to commit.
  • Terence Rattigan's The Browning Version has a wonderful one where the protagonist, Andrew Crocker-Harris, explains in painful detail his failures as a teacher to his replacement. The movie version adds a valedictory address where he's even more ruthlessly self-critical.
  • John Osborne's The Entertainer features its protagonist, music hall comedian Archie Rice, musing over the emptiness of his profession:
    Archie Rice: You see this face? This face can split open with warmth and humanity. It can sing, tell the worst, un-funniest stories in the world to a great mob of dead, drab irks. And it doesn't matter. It doesn't matter. It doesn't matter because look, look in my eyes. I'm dead behind these eyes. I'm dead, just like the whole, dumb, shoddy lot out there."

    Toys 
  • From BIONICLE, after Takanuva develops a Superpowered Evil Side:
    Takanuva: But I'm not my "kind", not anymore — your shadow leeches saw to that. I'm half Toa of Light, half Toa of Shadow. This was what you wanted, wasn't it? Toa consumed by darkness, Toa not hampered by things like mercy or morality. Well, now you can choke on it.

    Visual Novels 
  • Ace Attorney:
    • Near the end of the last case in Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney: Justice For All, after discovering that his client is guilty, Phoenix begins to question what it means to be a lawyer. Edgeworth reveals what he learned in his time overseas. It's not about "winning", it's about revealing the truth.
      Edgeworth: We prosecutors use anything we can to attack the defendant. But [...] It doesn't matter how many underhanded tricks a person uses... the truth will always find a way to make itself known. The only thing we can do is to fight with the knowledge we hold and everything we have. Erasing the paradoxes one by one... it's never easy... we claw and scratch for every inch. But we will always eventually reach that one single truth. This I promise you. That's the reason why prosecutors and defense lawyers exist.
    • After the Big Bad's Villainous Breakdown in the final case of Apollo Justice: Ace Attorney, there is some surprisingly poignant words from Klavier Gavin and the Judge about the nature of the law, given that the two of them are a Bunny-Ears Lawyer and a Cloud Cuckoolander. While the Big Bad believes "the law is absolute" and needed to protect the "ignorant masses" from themselves, Klavier and the Judge point out that the law is constantly changing as a reflection of human morals, and that it is thus the job of lawmakers and defenders to nurture it over time.
    The Judge: The law is the end product of many years of history... the fruit of human knowledge! Like a gem, polished to a gleam through trials... and errors. It is this fruit we receive, and pass on, and face in our time. And it is always changing, growing. Nurturing it is our task as human beings.
  • Fate/stay night:
    • Shirou delivers a World of Cardboard Speech in the Unlimited Blade Works route on how, even if he knows it's only because he's selfish and naive and knowing where he may end up if he keeps it, he'll still try to work towards his ideal of saving everyone to Archer — who can't hear a word of the speech because Shirou is busy fighting him and can't speak loudly enough to be heard. The trope also shows up in Heaven's Feel, where Kotomine lays out his own convictions on letting Angra Manyu loose on the world, which opposes Shirou's equally selfish and Not So Different ideal to destroy it to save Sakura (of course, one of these selfish ideals won't also eradicate humanity, but that's not really the issue here).
    • Shirou's version of the prayer that activates Unlimited Blade Works also carries tones of this:
      I have created over a thousand blades
      Unaware of loss, Nor aware of gain
      Withstood pain to create weapons, waiting for one's arrival
      I have no regrets. This is the only path
      My whole life was Unlimited Blade Works.
  • In Katawa Shoujo, near the end of Shizune's route, Hisao takes Misha on a tour of a campus, showing her places where they spent time during their days together, and how he started out as depressed and unwilling to do anything, but became more engaged over time. He ultimately concludes by telling her that he had to face the painful truth that he essentially pushed away all his friends during his time in the hospital and he does not want her to do the same to Shizune.
  • In Tsukihime, Shiki's Moment of Awesome comes when he manages to scare Roa shitless with one of these: justified in that to him, the world really is as flimsy as cardboard. For context, Roa has previously believed Shiki and he share the power to see death. He even goes as far as to thank Shiki for teaching him how to use it. Turns out, what Roa sees are actually the lifelines of living things. Shiki, on the other hand, can see the point of end for all things, including inanimate objects and even the universe itself. The speech is him really drilling in the difference.
    Shiki: You don't understand death at all. That's why you can't kill me, and why you're only able to kill a weakened woman. If you could see death, you couldn't maintain your sanity. All you can perceive is the part which keeps things alive. If you could see death, you wouldn't be able to even stand... It's like the world on the moon, a desolate wasteland. Being able to see the "death" of things means you are forced to see the world's uncertainty and fragility. The ground is like it's not there, and the sky seems about to fall at any moment. You don't know of the illusion that the whole world could perish in an instant. That is what it means to see death. These eyes, this power isn't something you can boast about like you did. Do you see your mistake, now, vampire? Life and death may be back to back, but they will never face each other. I'll show you. This is what it means to kill something.
  • In New Danganronpa V 3, Shuichi Saihara comes to this conclusion after finding out the true nature of the killing game in the final chapter:
    Shuichi: When Maki said she was going to sacrifice herself just now, I thought...Why? So many of our friends have sacrificed their lives. Why Maki? Why now? Why do we have to go through it again? The sadness of losing Kaede..and Kaito... Why do we have to feel that sadness over and over and over again? Why do we have to bear that burden...? Well, I don't care how much the audience wants it, I'm not gonna feel that way anymore! I don't want anyone to feel that way anymore! Even if this is fiction, even if we're all fictional... The pain in my heart is real! The sadness I feel when I lose the people I love is real! I won't forgive this game that treats us like toys. And if this is what the world wants...then I reject that world! I'll fight the world that inflicts suffering for entertainment!
  • A villainous version occurs in Dies Irae with the main Big Bad Reinhard where he chooses to embrace his power after having constantly denied it for years and to reach for greater heights instead of following the Nazi regime as an emotionless drone:
    Reinhard: Ah, why can't you endure my touch? If a mere graze upon your delicate skin sends you shattering to a myriad pieces, how can you hope to withstand my embrace? Such cruelty. Why must this world -from the tiniest blade of grass to the vastest of mountains- be so painfully fragile. So be it, then. My love shall take the form of destruction. I shall ravage so I can cherish. I adore the weak that bow before me, as well as the defeated that bend their knees. My love expands to the vassals that rebel, and those that mean me harm. I love all and everything. And so shall I lay waste to everything before me.

    Web Animation 
  • Broken Saints: Raimi's speech to Shandala in Chapter 21 about how much she has meant to him.
  • Much like the page quote above, in the Death Battle rematch between Superman and Goku, Superman delivers a quick one to Goku while they are fighting.
    Superman: With every step, an earthquake. With every breath, I could create a hurricane. This is my burden. Be thankful it is not yours.
  • Goku then claps back with his own Badass Boast.
    Goku: You're not the only one with that kind of power. (transforms in SSGSS Goku)
  • In the last episode of Season 5 of Arby 'n' the Chief Arbitur gives one to Trent Donnovich in response to a "The Reason You Suck" Speech Trent had delivered earlier in the season.
    Arbiter: It doesn't surprise me that a dose of emotion would have a toxic effect on an emotion-deprived cretin like you. Who's really the plastic one here? Your bleak outlook on life is poisonous. Maybe the world is a big sinking ship. But we can't accept that as an inevitability and use it as an excuse to act like shitheads. We have to be the change we seek. We have to build something better for ourselves.

    Webcomics 
  • Girl Genius:
  • Torg from Sluggy Freelance gets one of these at the end of the "That Which Redeems" arc (doubling as his Moment of Awesome).
    Torg: Redemption is overrated.
  • The Order of the Stick:
    • Roy Greenhilt's response to Xykon after the lich asks him to stand down and come back later, immediately after Xykon suggests that he's still trying to impress Daddy. Roy manages to prove just how far he's come, and that he's no longer the same college kid who swore to kill Xykon just because his dad thought he couldn't.
      Roy: I'll be the first to admit that I got into this quest for all the wrong reasons, but none of that matters now. You're a threat to the entire world, not just me and my family. But like it or not, you're still MY responsibility. Because I'm the only one here who's willing to be responsible. You may not be out to destroy the physical planet, but living under the heel of a walking villain cliché like you will destroy its soul. If I don't beat you here and now, then soon this screwed-up nonsensical world won't exist anymore. There won't be any place left for introverted dwarves. Or androgynous elves. Or idiotic bards or greedy rogues... or sexy sylphes. Or hell, even raging narcissistic paladins. Bloodthirsty halflings will probably get along fine, though. So, in summary, it's a dirty job, but some PC has to do it. Enough with the speeches. Let's get down to brass tacks.
    • In the prequel Start of Darkness, Xykon gives Dorukan a brutal one about how much he resents being looked down upon by wizards, something that has happened frequently during the book:
      Xykon: Hey, you know what really gets under my skin? Proverbially, of course? A century of wizards looking down their damn noses at me. I know people think I'm stupid. Because I'm not a wizard. Because I get bored easily. Because I have no interest in strategy or tactics or contingency planning. But see, I've learned a lot over the years since I died. A lot more than I learned during my life. And now I see planning doesn't matter. Strategy doesn't matter. Only two things matter: Force in as great a concentration as you can manage, and style. And in a pinch, style can slide. In any battle, there's always a level of force against which no tactics can succeed. For example, all I need to do is keep smacking you with Energy Drains, and eventually you won't be able to cast any of your fancy spells at all. Because yes, I am a sorcerer — and this magic is in my bones, not cribbed-off "Magic for Dummies". And I can keep casting the same friggin' spell at you until you roll over and die. You can have your finely-tuned watch -- give me the sledgehammer to the face any day.
    • Ironically enough, a later fight against Xykon by Vaarsuvius shows that simply possessing greater power than one's opponent, even greater magical power, isn't enough. On the other hand, Xykon explains that power isn't just having a lot of powerful magic spells; it's whatever resources you have at your disposal, and a knowledge of how to put them to good use. In Xykon's case, sometimes it is magic, sometimes it's a +8 racial bonus to listen checks and sometimes it's having the strength to crush your opponent's windpipe with your bare hands.
    • As he crushes the Azure City Resistance, Redcloak makes a short but effective one, in which he explains how he's learned to stop taking foolish chances and being easily goaded into fights.
      Redcloak: Not too long ago, that would have been a very effective taunt. But you can thank one of your "brothers" for its futility now. What I have lost in depth perception, I have gained in perspective. Stupid risks are just that: stupid. Crush him.
    • Then a short one, but a good one, from Elan to Tarquin:
      Elan: You know, the first time I met Nale, we ended up in almost the exact same situation. He wound up hanging over a pit of monsters, and I pulled him up. He didn't understand why I did it. I told him it was because I was the good twin, not the neutral twin.
      Tarquin: Good, good, glad to hear it. Now pull me up, I think my fingers are slipping.
      Elan: But see, dad, that's the thing. I'm not a twin anymore. And you're not the real villain.
      [Tarquin, shocked, falls off]
      Elan: Don't worry. You'll live.
    • Roy gives one to Vamp!Durkon during their fight to save/destroy the world (which doubles as a Shut Up, Hannibal!):
      Roy: Oh... I understand. YOU'RE NOT DURKON AT ALL! You are just some undead thing hiding behind his face. I don't know whether you started out as Durkon and turned into this, or you're just squatting in his corpse — but I was stupid to think it even matters! How many different levels of denial was I in, anyway?!? I am going to stop you, and if that means I never get my friend back because he was twisted into being you, then I will be sad, but you will be DEAD!!
    • Durkon delivers one to the High Priest of Hel when the later starts having a breakdown over not being able to understand why Durkon's mother would sacrifice riches for five complete strangers.
      Durkon: Thar's na much ta explain. Ye told me b'fore tha ye are who ye are on the worst day o' yer life. An' tha's true. Tha's 100% true. But ye know who else ye are? Ye are who ye are on the next day. Tha day ye wake up an' haf ta decide: are ye gonna make this the new worst day o' yer life... or na. Ye are who ye are on all yer days. All o' them. Includin' tha worst and tha best. Ev'ry single one counts. All tha way ta tha end. An' when ye haf a new worst day, ye can get stuck thar, lookin' back on it an' worryin'. An' tha's normal. But sooner or later, ye gotta take all tha pain an' do sumthin' wit it. Try ta make sumthin' better outta it[...] My mother turned tha worst thing tha could ev'r happen ta anyone inta tha best thing tha could happen ta anyone. Ta five anyones. An' I turned tha worst thing tha could happen ta me inta savin' tha world from people like ye.
  • The Last Days of FOXHOUND:
    • Liquid Snake makes a combination of the World of Cardboard Speech and Calling the Old Man Out when he echews his earlier Idiot Hero tendencies for a more practical outlook, and pulls a gun on Big Boss during their final fistfight.
      Liquid: Oh no. That was the old Liquid. The dumbass Liquid. The Liquid who'd cut his arm off to prove he could get by without it. I realized something while I was dead. My entire life I've been obsessed with proving you wrong. Proving that I'm not garbage, that I can be the best in spite of all my recessive genes. But I've figured you out, old man. I know why you always told me I was worthless. Why you destroyed my self-confidence, made me think I had to do everything the hard way to earn any respect. I'm better than you. And you know it. If you hadn't turned me into such an insecure showoff, history would only remember you as Liquid Snake's father.
    • Subverted in that Liquid is wrong; Big Boss manipulated his emotions not to cripple him out of jealousy, but to strengthen him by giving him a relentless drive to overcome his perceived inferiority to Solid Snake, thus allowing him to continue on Big Boss' goals.
  • In Anti Bunny, main(ish) charecter Nailbat gives one of these, pointing out that he is a blackbelt, bullets dodge HIM, he can't be killed until the day he dies in about six months, knows that whatever he does he won't have to face the consequences of because he'll irrevocably die, and has the power to defy fate. He doesn't chose his lifestyle and code of honor because of labels or societies demands, he does it because it's the right thing to do. I mean, when you cannot die until the clock hits zero and you know if you do something with horrible consequences it won't matter for you in the long run, it takes a very strong sense of right and wrong to not abuse that.
  • Smoke from WTF Comics unloads one of these onto Nikisha after she attacks Anna with a poisoned throwing star in order to get to him. Oh, and while giving this Smoke is also beating her to an inch of her life her
    Smoke: It's always the same... wherever I go, it's the same. People like you have no problem hurting the innocent to get at others... can't just come after who you really want. NO! You try to kill a kid whose only mistake was being a friend! Just leverage! A tool! Just like before, just like her! Well not again!
  • From Misfile, Rumisiel delivers this speech:
    Rumisiel: You want to see spirits? You want to look into the eyes of the beings who will watch over the end of days? I have seen the fall of empires and the murder of millions! I have shoved that data into files like so many numbers! I have seen a great many things, but little as ignorant and dangerous as a conceited little girl who has used so called "spiritual devices" to turn her own unbridled ID into a demon capable of killing the one she's too stupid to realize she loves!
  • In Captain Gamer, while he's fighting a mind-controlled Mai Shiranui, who tells him that there will always be evil and he'll never change that, Captain Gamer responds that she's right—there will always be evil, but there will also always be good, and that is why he continues to fight.
  • In Captain SNES: The Game Masta, Lucca gives a truly memorable one to the Eater of Dreams in comic 647.
    Lucca: When there is no hope... there's nothing to lose by trying. Maybe I am destined to become a puppet. Maybe there's nothing I can do to stop what's coming. BUT I'LL BE DAMNED IF I GO DOWN QUIETLY. Even if I have to twist the very fabric of reality... I won't lose!
  • Melna Durnaxe of Dominic Deegan gets a very special moment of closure during the 'March Across Maltak' Arc.
  • Alison, the superhero title character of Strong Female Protagonist, gets an extremely disturbing one as part of a Not So Different speech when she visits a villain in prison.
    Alison: I fantasize about killing people all the time.
    Cleaver: ...What?
    Alison: I think about how easy it would be. What if I just started showing up to Klan rallies with an I-beam? Knock down the capitol building, force them to pass Universal Health Care, stuff every Ayn Rand fanatic into a big mason jar and hurl them into the sun. I could do it, you know. I really could. And then there's these people with their fucking sneers going "You're a monster! You're a thug! You kill people!" NO FUCKING SHIT I KILL PEOPLE! I put holes in mountains! I break shit constantly without even trying! I saved the world on no less than seven fucking occasions, and guess what, super-accuracy is not one of my anomalies! Am I supposed to be impressed that you've never killed anybody? What a bold moral choice from someone who's terrified of violence and scared shitless of going to jail! It's like, have you ever had the option of murdering a bunch of people? Okay, then why the FUCK am I listening to your opinion on the matter? Every day I don't kill a thousand fucking people, they should throw me a god-damned tickertape parade!
  • In El Goonish Shive, Elliot gives a minor one in the middle of fighting Nanase.
    • Adrian Raven gives one when the school he teaches at is being attacked by a wizard
    Raven: My career choices are limited. I have been shamefully forbidden to serve in any military. I CAN act directly if the situation involves magic or is an immediate threat to myself or others. You are a homocidal wizard attacking a public school. No-one will care if I kill you.
  • Downplayed and Played for Laughs in Buster Wilde Weerwolf. Buster delivers this to the people who are afraid of him and oppose him with I Am What I Am thrown in, but everyone had already ran away and only one person was there.
    Buster: PEOPLE! I BESEECH YOU! Run not away! Please hear me! While it is true that I am a were-wolf, a bloodthirsty animal, a moon-crazed creature of the night, if you will...uh...Is it not true that, in a manner, we're all...um...all that and more? And less? More or less. Hm? Am I not human half the time...I think? Must you condemn me thusly? *sniff* What of compassion?! And empathy? Can you not accept me for who I am? Cast out me not! Shun no more me! I AM HERE! I AM WEER! GET USED TO IT!!

    Web Videos 

    Western Animation 
  • The Trope Namer, which you can watch here and read at the top of the page, is Superman's speech in Justice League Unlimited during his fight with Darkseid in the Grand Finale. The specific moment is in answer to Darkseid asking, "Can't you see that it's hopeless?" after he's attacked by Batman. Superman proceeds to hit Darkseid harder than he's hit anything else in the DCAU, and has him on the ropes, only for Darkseid to resort to an Agony Beam when it becomes clear Superman would win a straight fight.
  • Avatar: The Last Airbender: Zuko confronts his Dad during the Day of Black Sun. He unfolds his life and what he went through to please his father, deconstructing his own life and motivations, topping it off with a rejection of his nation's goals and summary of how they are viewed by others before finally telling Ozai that he's leaving to join the Avatar. See the quotes page for the entire exchange.
  • In Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker, Terry was always being chided by the Joker for not being "the real Batman". At the climax, Terry finds himself slightly outmatched but comes to realize that the original Batman never beat the Joker at his mind games. To counter this, Terry turns the tables through an epic verbal beatdown that actually gets the Joker to stop smiling. He gets the Joker to finally lose his cool by doing exactly what Joker had wanted Batman to do ever since they started fighting: laugh. Terry makes the Joker flip out by laughing...because he was laughing AT him, making the Joker the butt of the jokes. Granted, the immediate result is not what Terry had in mind, but it shows show that Terry is his own man, able to combat the Joker better than the original Batman ever could: unlike Bruce, Terry could see the Joker as a pathetic loser. It can be viewed here.
  • Danny Phantom villain Spectra uses the misery of children to permanently appear young; naturally, she would go out of her way to traumatize her victims to provide enough angst to maintain her appearance. Danny's humiliation and psychological breakdown at her hands gave Spectra and her servant the upper hand during their earlier fights with Danny, until Danny realizes that being hard on himself only makes things worse.
    Danny: Man, I'm so tired of you dumping on me, and I'm so tired of dumping on myself. Jazz never did that, even when I was mad at her, and I won't let her DOWN!
  • Blue Beetle gives one in the season 2 finale of Young Justice. After spending the entire series fighting with the Scarab (and it fighting with him) being stuck inside Jaime's body with each other for a few months turned them into equals and partners, united against any outside threat.
  • The Hulk says something similar to the JLU example in the Avengers, Assemble! episode "Hulked Out Heroes". After Gamma-poisoning turns the rest of the Avengers (save for Black Widow) into monsters, Hulk advises The Falcon to treat "everything like an egg" in order to avoid breaking things. During the finale, Hulk gleefully states that he always has to hold back to avoid killing his opponents, but now that he's up against a group of Hulked-out monsters, he no longer has to worry about that.
  • Kim Possible Movie: So the Drama: Kim's Pre-Asskicking One-Liner before the final fight crosses with this, helped by Ron's Love Confession while they were tied up.
    Kim: You're right, Drakken. Boys, dating, oh it's hard, but THIS... is easy!
  • Batman: Under the Red Hood plays with the trope. Finding out that Batman had not killed The Joker to avenge the death of Jason Todd sets Red Hood out to find out why, causing a wave of crime and chaos to follow. Batman's response to him is that he has yearned for the opportunity to make The Joker pay for what he did but does not out of fear for what it will bring about in him with regards to the rest of his rogues gallery. The twist comes when the critical moment arrives and he has the opportunity, in the end still choosing not to and not straying from what he had said earlier.
  • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic combines this with Shut Up, Hannibal! at the climax of "The Return of Harmony":
    Twilight Sparkle: I'll tell you what we've learned, Discord! We've learned that friendship isn't always easy, but there's no doubt it's worth fighting for!
  • Archer: Sterling Archer gets a badass one in "Sitting".
    Archer: So here's the thing, Farooq. I don't know about any stories, but whatever badass shit that you heard I did? You really need some context, because pretty much my whole life, pretty much right up until this minute my default setting has been half-assed. (cracks knuckles) But that was before I had a child. A child you threatened to harm. A child, I just realised, who's probably on her way up to the roof so Aunt Pam can swat at biplanes! So imagine, as I literally beat you to death - Hang on... Yeah, literally - that a giant hand has turned my dial from half-assed to quadruple-assed!
  • DuckTales (2017) has a variant, where Louie gives Donald a World of Cardboard Speech as a pep talk to inspire him to weaponize his Unstoppable Rage to defeat Gladstone Gander in a race.
    Louie: Come on, Uncle Donald! So you have the worst luck in the world, who cares? No matter how bad things get—like really, really bad—you keep going. It's kind of ridiculous. You never had the common sense to give up before; why start now?

 
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Alternative Title(s): World Made Of Cardboard Speech

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I'm always angry

Bruce Banner finally accepts the rage of the Hulk as his own, and takes hold of it.

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