Break the Haughty

Everything About Fiction You Never Wanted to Know.

"When Pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with humility comes wisdom."

Proverbs 11:2, The Bible

In fiction, it's dangerous to carry one's head too high. What kind of character is used for this story varies; it can be anyone from a Jerkass to a Corrupt Corporate Executive. Extra points if the character has not only a high opinion of themselves, but also a low opinion of everyone else.

But unfortunately for them, they are usually so busy kissing their mirror they don't see that the plot has a very special treat in stock for them that will teach them the error of their ways. Thoroughly. Right before our eyes.

The "breakings" usually involve misfortunes increasing in unpleasantness, Mind Rape, killing everyone they love, And I Must Scream, disease, Cold-Blooded Torture, horrible accidents, and so on; the character will fail in the field they pride themselves on, lose all admirers or their power, and they alone will be responsible for their problems. Also, they might get pummeled into the ground or verbally torn apart by a "The Reason You Suck" Speech, anything that knocks them off their high horse. No matter how, they either end up bitter and alone or having to depend on others - either way, eating a good fat slice of Humble Pie. This trope evokes either sympathy or schadenfreude from the public; the high-and-mighty may learn the Aesop or not, but the public gets to learn it either way.

Which is a rather old idea: The Ancient Greeks considered Hubris (overbearing Pride) to be one of the greatest and most self-destructive sins. Thus, there are quite a number of stories about how those guilty of it are punished, either by circumstances or by the gods (although circumstances are generally also considered caused by the gods). The Greeks even had a god specifically for the punishment of hubris, the goddess Nemesis. Or, as Brick Top put it, "Do you know what 'nemesis' means? A righteous infliction of retribution manifested by an appropriate agent..." The Greeks loved irony poetic justice; the proud were always brought down by something....appropriate.

See Pride Before a Fall for a fall that happens at once right at the beginning, Ineffectual Loner and Insufferable Genius for characters who are much at risk of getting this plot line for them, Fallen Princess for a heroine whom The Call itself punishes with a drop in status, the Ted Baxter for a character whose overinflated self-image will be shattered, and Royal Brats for characters whom the audience will be begging to see broken. If the setting is High School, the Alpha Bitch and the Jerk Jock will be the victims of such a plot.

Compare Sudden Humility, which may or may not affect a haughty character.

Often seen in a Slobs Versus Snobs conflict or a Backstory. If the Hubris is society-wide, see Look on My Works Ye Mighty and Despair, and And Man Grew Proud.

Examples of Break the Haughty include:

Anime and Manga

  • Both Pride and Father get a taste of this in Fullmetal Alchemist. Pride, the incarnation of the homunculi's superiority complex over humankind, is pushed to the brink and tries to save himself by taking over Ed's body. Kimblee, who had managed to keep his individuality after being devoured, condemns Pride for his hypocrisy and destabilizes him long enough for Ed to gain the upper hand and deconstruct him, reducing him to a harmless human infant with no memory of ever being a homunculus. As for Father, shortly before Pride's fall, he gloats at Ed, Al, Izumi, and Roy about how the Truth only gave them what they deserved for their "arrogance"; after he's defeated and appears before the portal, Truth turns his words back on him right before the portal drags him into oblivion.
  • In Kaleido Star, May Wong thought she could skip the "hard work" and become the star while breaking her rival Sora and charming her idol Leon. Well, when Leon deliberately dropped her during an act as a test of strength, seriously injuring her in the process, she was brutally proven wrong and had to start from scratch.
  • Autor from Princess Tutu generally comes off as a snob, lording his grand knowledge about the Story-Spinning powers over another character, only to be humiliated when the character is "chosen" over him and he turns out to have no trace of the powers in question.
  • Asuka from Neon Genesis Evangelion is a subverted version of this. In both her first story and "The Day Tokyo 3 stood still" she is set up for such a fall. In the first one, everyone pulls together and she learns no "lesson". In the second she makes a fool of herself trying to take charge, until the real battle. Then she starts giving orders that make sense and takes over and the whole Aesop is just ignored. After she snaps out of her Mind Rape induced coma, in The Movie she's just as cocky as she ever was. Though she is physically broken very very thoroughly. At the very end, she seems to have softened slightly, but she still has to get the last word in (and it's not sweet).
    • Debatable in that Asuka really never thought highly of herself so much as wanted others to think highly of her. If anything, her self-confidence increases after she gets out of her coma because she becomes self-reliant and learns her mother loved her. As for the last line, considering what happened earlier...
    • Shinji, on the other hand, gets to have one moment of being the best on synch tests, and then is promptly devoured by an Angel moments later.
    • Ritsuko. She at first is portrayed as a frigid, detached bitch with an intense hatred of Rei and a liking to Playing with Syringes... then she goes on a Motive Rant and is reduced to a sobbing wreck in episode 23 when she realizes that Gendo was just using her, spending the next episode and the first few minutes of EoE in the brig. First thing she does after being released is setting up her revenge in the form of Taking You with Me. Mad Scientist, much?
    • Also debatable, in that Ritsuko's detachment stems from being a Beta Test Baddie and being raised by a mother who thought more of herself than her daughter. She latches onto the only one to show her affection, Gendo, and quickly degrades under the fact that she feels unloved, and finds connecting with people hard.
  • Hiei from Yu Yu Hakusho, though it is somewhat averted in that he remains just as arrogant as before (though he does become a calmer person) and isn't "broken" at all, even after getting his soul stolen by Kaito.
  • Vegeta from Dragonball Z can't believe that anyone could be stronger than him and so gets his ass handed to him twice, thrice every season.
    • ...And takes an absurdly long time to even be able to admit that someone else could be a superior fighter, despite quite a few of these beatings. He got a particularly brutal No-Holds-Barred Beatdown from Frieza, and even broke down and cried in his last moments... and after being brought back to life, was straight back to his arrogant self.
      • ...and then he got a royal smack-down by a woman. An android woman, but still a woman.
        • For those who haven't seen the manga nor subbed episodes of DBZ, the reason why 18 being a woman here is relevant at all is due to what Piccolo said after the fight. According to Piccolo, losing to a woman, despite being an android, was especially harmful to Vegeta's ego.
        • Apparently not THAT harmful though, as a very short time later (after some training) his ego got the best of him AGAIN when he allowed Cell to absorb Android 18 and reach his perfect form, which leads to ANOTHER Break the Haughty moment for Vegeta when Cell subsequently beats him down. You have to admit, his ego is pretty resilient considering that he still manages to remain arrogant no matter how many beatings he takes.
    • He knew that he was outclassed by the Ginyu Force and Frieza and actually devised plans to deal with Frieza. When it actually came to fight Frieza, though, he eventually became too confident in his abilities after realizing the Saiyans' ability to get stronger after recovering after having been nearly killed. He eventually gave up to Frieza, though.
      • Wait. If they grow stronger after getting their asses kicked, then he'd probably think he'd grown stronger than his opponent each time!
      • As for every opponent afterwards, though, there was a huge power discrepancy between those he had to fight at first and the current most powerful threat. Vegeta, while having a very high opinion of himself, did realize that Goku was his better. This is especially apparent during the Buu Saga when he allowed Babidi to control him for the sake of a power boost (which led to a fight where he flat out told Goku he hated him for being better), when he realized that he'd have to kill himself for the sake of destroying Buu, when he realized that he'd no choice but to fuse with Goku to defeat Buu, and, finally, during the fight with Kid Buu, where he admits to himself that Goku would always be better than him. He even comes up with a plan to kill Buu and volunteers himself as a distraction for Goku. At this point, the resulting beatdown doesn't hurt his ego nearly as much, though he does say that he deserves to die if he can't even last as a distraction...
        • The villians of course have it far worse than him. Freiza was capable of eradicating most of the Saiyan race without going beyond one of his FOUR forms. He powers up all the way to his final form and is defeated on Namek when he's accidentally cut in half by his own attack. He returns as a cyborg and Future Trunks easily kills him. He returns again, briefly, in Movie 12, and Gohan kills him in one punch.
  • Take your pick in Yu-Gi-Oh! GX: Kaiser Ryo, which leads to a Freak-Out, Face Heel Turn, and This Is Your Brain on Evil; Edo, who suffered from a huge case of self-righteousness and snobbishness—his early relationship with Judai could in fact be considered a case of Slobs Versus Snobs—and eventually discovered (along with his best friend... the season's Big Bad) that he Missed the Call; and Manjyome, to the point where he has to go in the opposite direction and rediscover his true strength! Oh, and it's a foregone conclusion that anyone on this show who undergoes this plot will come within an inch of losing their life in the process.
  • Whenever a trainer in Pokémon gets too cocky, this is gonna happen to them. Gary Oak would be the most prominent example.
    • Paul, after spending the entire season being one Arrogant Kung Fu Guy and looking down in Ash, discovers that Ash has beaten Brandon (that has beaten his brother and the entire reason to he be one Arrogant Kung Fu Guy) and is soundly beaten in front of his brother.
    • In the case of Gary, after spending the entire first season mocking Ash, he not only gets curb stomped by Mewtwo, he also loses in the preliminaries of the tournament both he and Ash spent a year preparing for.
      • Although to be fair to Gary, he was absolutely dominating Giovanni before Mewtwo, the strongest Pokemon in existence at the time, stepped onto the field.
    • In May's case, she develops an over-inflated ego after learning she had a group of admirers. She ends up pushing her Pokemon too hard during the contest and gets reprimanded hard by Nurse Joy of all people.
    • Ash's Charizard also went through this in an early Johto episode. Upon arriving at a Charizard sanctuary, they reveal that Charizard (for a long time the most powerful Pokemon in Ash's party) is actually weak compared to the others there. Then he gets beaten up by anyone that it challenges, including a female said to be the weakest Charizard there. Ash leaves Charizard behind to get stronger. This mellows him out a lot.
  • In the original manga of Yu-Gi-Oh!, Mokuba Kaiba undergoes this, changing from a stuck up brat who secretly longed for his big brother's approval to someone who was... well, still a jerk sometimes, but mostly okay, after Yugi defeated him at Capsule Monsters. Seto Kaiba sure could have used this plot in the anime, but no matter how many times he lost a duel, he came out of the subsequent Heroic BSOD as arrogant as ever.
  • In Death Note: Near figures that simply killing Light Yagami would be too easy, and so chooses to take this route.
  • In Basilisk: Kouga Ninpu Chuu... Just like Oboro's part of the story is a full-blown Break the Cutie process, Tenzen's end was a big Break the Haughty moment. A blinded Gennosuke manages to kill him for already the third time in the series, and when his grunts are getting ready to help him revive, Oboro uses her newly recovered power to blast his head off his shoulders and kill him for good
  • Mahou Sensei Negima has this several times. Evangeline is tricked into losing most of her powers and being forced to be a student at Mahora Academy, so far for fifteen years and counting. Kotaro, after many insults towards western magic was dealt a thorough beating with it, then later joined the good guys where he faced even more powerful enemies, also western. Fate was dealt a strong hit to the face by Negi, who when ready to take revenge for it (he's never been hit before) was given a brutally humiliating defeat by a temporarily empowered Evangeline. She even overwhelmed him when he attempted a sneak attack using a water clone. He still acts like The Stoic though.
    • In a less extreme example, Asuna does this to Ayaka, whose inferiority in combat and martial arts to Asuna was pushed to embarrassing levels, then salted by her own continued, futile attempts to take an Ala Alba badge. She ended up crying like a spoiled child in the end. Worse yet, Asuna was trying so little that at points she barely noticed her own gross overwhelming of her opponent, asking "Are you okay" many times. To Ayaka's credit, of the whole class she was one of the few remaining Ordinary High School Girls to manage a hit on one of the masterfully trained Ala Alba, which says a lot about her Badass Normal status.
  • Akito from Fruits Basket. Toward the end of the manga, she does a complete 180 after spending most of the series being seen at the Big Bad.
  • In the manga Samurai Deeper Kyo, this happens to Shinrei, Tokito, and Akira.
  • In Macross Frontier, just as Ranka's star begins to rise, Sheryl's illness gets worse, her popularity wanes, her agent deserts her, and her career plummets. It all comes to a head as she hits rock-bottom, her illness becoming terminal, her music getting tossed in the bargain bin and people on the street hardly recognizing her anymore. Then, despite her illness, a more sincere Sheryl devotes herself to singing for the sake of the people, and she regains the love of her audience.
  • Erenfried of Neo Angelique Abyss is initially presented as a insufferable prodigy until his inventions stop working on the thanatos, his team is wiped out in a thanatos attack, his plan to kidnap Angelique fails causing his mentor to scold him, this same mentor gets sentenced to death for the property damage Erenfried's machines caused forcing him to ask for help from The Organisation, he is forced to give up his robot assistant and once he finishes his work The Organisation betrays him and throws him in prison. He's a bit different after all that.
  • Hell Girl: This happens to the many of the people the Enma Ai takes to Hell.
  • In Narutaru, Aki Honda goes to insane lengths to break Hiroko Kaizuka, and to keep reluctant Girl Posse member Miyoko Shito from finding her conscience in time to stop the spiraling madness. Well, the cutie is broken, and then, in some of the most gruesomely memorable sequences in animanga, the cutie breaks the haughty. One of the girls (Hiroka) is a mere thug, and dies a simple, but still brutal death in front of her classmates. One (Mihaya) is almost as sadistic as Aki, and her remains are left unrecognizable in a dark alley. The aforementioned Miyoko confesses her and the group's sins in public after witnessing Hiroka's death and lives, but she has a leg ripped off her body and is both forever scarred and haunted by how she could have stopped this. While Aki is reveling in her rule-breaking to the point of openly breaking one of the great taboos, and plotting still more impossible to pin on her attacks on Hiroko, the broken cutie's vengeance finds her, and exacts her revenge in a magnification of Aki's worst atrocity against her. Miyoko's pleas of sorry earn the former bully her life -- not so for Aki, whose pleas come only as she dies, and who is left with no doubt who's killing her and why, despite appearances.
  • One Piece has the Celestial Dragons, or World Nobles. For good measure, as descendants of the World Government's originators, anyone who opposes them risks the wrath of a Marine Admiral. Too bad one of them, Saint Charloss, shoots Hatchan in front of Luffy. Luffy got a bit mad. Just enough to punch Charlos's face so badly that Luffy leaves a HUGE crater on the side, drives the poor sap through rows of seats, and sends him crashing into a wall.
    • Charloss's predecessor, Bellamy, got much the same treatment when he arrogantly laughed off the crew's goal of Sky Island and robbed one of their friends.
      • That's not even the worst of it. When Doflamingo, Bellamy's employer, heard of Bellamy's ignoble defeat, he had Bellamy cut down by one of his own crew mates and left him to die in the street, saying he had no need for weaklings in his crew.
  • Pick any sports-related anime/manga. Chances are this trope will happen to those who think that they're better than anyone:
    • Are you a Jerk Jock in Captain Tsubasa? This will happen to you. Wakabayashi, Hyuuga and Souda got quite of this which led to Defeat Means Friendship, but the best examples are: Napoleon from the Shin manga ( because first he gets slapped by Pierre in front of everyone for dirty tactics, and later he misses the vital penalty that gets France eliminated from the tournament), Bunnark from the Thai team ( as it's due to his mistake that Thailand loses as well), and specially Ricardo Espadas ( who loses spectacularly against the Japanese team. Made even more beautiful considering his big Kick the Dog moments in his first apparitions, all related to him thinking that Tsubasa is a useless rich kid -- boy, Tsubasa classily and cheerfully proves him wrong.)
    • Naoki Shinjyo in Future GPX Cyber Formula gets at least two of these: First when he is beaten by Hayato in the British Grand Prix, and then he gets chewed out by Sugo's local Wrench Wench Miki Joununchi twice for lashing out at his team's new mechanics and blaming them for his troubles in the races. This also happens to Randoll in the Spain GP, when Hayato sends his car flying into the sea.
    • Hajime Mizuki from The Prince of Tennis gets this in one single tennis game. As punishment for treating an emotionally vulnerable player as totally expendable. And at the hands of said vulnerable player's protective older brother, too! It's magnificent. (And it marks Mizuki's Heel Face Turn, too.)
  • Xanxus from Katekyo Hitman Reborn. "YOU PIECES OF TRASH!" indeed. Too bad for him he lost so magnificently. To a 14-year-old, no less.
    • Not that he became any less arrogant.
  • The Vision of Escaflowne: Van vs. the Dragonslayers. Dilandau is not having a good day.
  • Berserk: Every person that ever met and underestimated Guts in battle dies. Horrifically.
    • This trophy goes to Griffith the most. A man of great skill and pride, his ego is totally destroyed when he lost just one fight to Guts, and he went and did some self-destructive behavior like sleeping with the princess that got him landed in prison, getting horrifically tortured for a year. After his rescue, Griffith is the shadow of the man that he once was, not capable of being a warrior or a leader anymore. And this slowly starts to drive him over the edge...
  • In Code Geass, both Lelouch and Suzaku slowly go through this, both in particularly brutal ways. Lelouch ends up causing a brutal massacre through his Power Incontinence, necessitating the murder of his half-sister Euphemia. Then Nunnally is kidnapped. Then she's apparently killed. He breaks at this point. It's about the same for Suzaku. He loses Euphemia, goes the Knight Templar route for equal rights, then nukes Tokyo, which apparently kills Nunnally. Both get around to working together after this.
    • An even more apt case would be then-racist Jeremiah Gottwald getting framed as part of a scandal by Zero after attempting to frame Suzaku for the murder of Clovis, done in hopes of having the Honorary Britannian system abolished, which leads to a Humiliation Conga of him subsequently getting demoted, leading up to him almost completely incinerated by Kallen and her brand spanking new Guren. After going completely insane during the Season One finale (due to experimentation), he Takes a Level In Badass, finds out who Lelouch really is and pulls a Heel Face Turn, becoming anime's poster-boy for Ensemble Darkhorse and the series' for Badass in the process.
  • Monster: Eva Heinemann is a woman whose Establishing Character Moment involves consoling her (now ex-)fiance (who had just realized that he effectively let a man die simply because he wasn't prestigious enough to afford his services as a surgeon) by telling him that people's lives aren't equal and he should just stop fussing about it. How far does she fall from grace? Well, let's just say that, eventually, waking up in a jail cell for public drunkenness and discovering that all of her belongings have been stolen is, in fact, the high point of her day.
  • Princess Shoukei from The Twelve Kingdoms. Oh, booooooy.
  • Nanami of Revolutionary Girl Utena. Poor girl.
    • To elaborate, from the Utena character page: After discovering that her brother, who she loved ever since she was a child, was not her blood sibling, she feels like the connection she had her whole life was a lie. After that, she runs away from home, into the house of a pair of close, happy siblings...only to walk in on them having sex. And after that she walks in on her brother making out with a member of her old gang, to hear that her brother said he not only never loved her to begin with, and to have her ex-friend claim she has no connection to her anymore. And then after that she gets the Akio Car treatment, where her brother attempts to rape her, much to her horror. Her proceeding duel has her break down in tears, claiming that she doesn't have any connection to the brother she loves, and is horrified as being just like the other girls he sees absolutely nothing in. It's very hard not to feel sorry for her after all that, even if you thought she was a raging Rich Bitch.
    • Several secondary characters go through this, with the manipulative and prissy Shiori being the most prominent. She both admires and despises Juri, a prodigal student and fencer; unknown to the former, Juri is actually in love with her (and not with a boy they both knew before, as noted in a flashback). Enter Ruka, an old flame of Juri's and former fencing team captain, who sleeps with Shiori and makes her his Rose Bride for a duel with Utena...only to purposefully lose and both call out and humiliate Shiori for it. Cue Shiori begging him to return to her in front of the entire school, true nature exposed. Ruka purposefully acted this way to force Juri out of her broken state, even if it's true a big-ass Jerkass Facade -- and while being almost at the brink of his own death. Whereas the other secondary characters stay the same, Shiori mellows out by the end of the series.
  • In Naruto, Neji Hyuuga is a genius who knows it and keeps insisting that everyone else's destiny is to lose to him. He is brought down hard by the titular character, becoming much more likeable.
    • A quote from Kakashi, early in the series, would seem to indicate a trend:

Kakashi (to Sasuke): They say the nail that stands up is the one that gets hammered down.

  • Mikael from Tenshi ni Narumon got thoroughly broken at the end of the series after going evil and insane over his obsession of becoming an angel, leaving him totally dependent on his teacher who still let him stew in his own juice. But it got subverted at the very end, because his actions, however morally dubious they were, got him promoted to a position of an angel teacher.
  • In Inuyasha, Sesshoumaru's entire journey is one long trip along this path until he learns the value of compassion which enables him to achieve his true power. He doesn't stop being prideful, but he does mellow from being a Jerkass to being a Jerk with a Heart of Gold and move from villain to Anti-Hero status as a result.
  • In Kichiku Megane, Midou suffers this after being repeatedly and brutally tortured by Katsuya. (Though it happens in both the game and the manga, the manga goes on in more detail, including flashbacks from Midou's perspective, woobiefying him a bit)

Comic Books

  • In the miniseries 52, Booster Gold is revealed to have staged a super villain attack using an actor in Powered Armor to increase his reputation. He becomes a haughty Jerkass with a bitter hatred for the new hero Supernova and desperately searches for a chance to regain his superhero status. In issue #15 he manages to redeem himself in a Crowning Moment of Awesome just before he dies in a nuclear explosion with only his skeleton left. In issue #37 it is revealed that his fall-from-grace, apparent death and rivalry with Supernova (who is revealed to be Booster Gold using time travel) was all part of a plan to stop Mister Mind from destroying The Multiverse. He still hired the fake super villain to boost his ego, which was his actual lowest point, but that was before he learned what was going on and decided to turn himself around.
  • Rayek from Elf Quest, for several issues after his disastrous attempt to Set Right What Once Went Wrong.
  • Envy Adams from Scott Pilgrim, ex-girlfriend of Scott. She manages to, in one volume, lose everything she holds dear Starting off with her boyfriend cheating on her for her ex-drummer and then realizing her boyfriend is a good for nothing asshole who would actually hit her and that Ramona was his first true love and that she was a second fiddle.
  • The X-Men during Craig Kyle and Chris Yost's run in New X-Men. The senior team's decisions all end up actually hurting the younger students that they've sworn to protect leading to the death of some of them. By the Children of the X-Men arc, the team makes a genuine effort to get to know their students personally instead of just making decisions for them based on what they think is best.
    • Worst hit is Emma Frost, by the end of the Mercury Falling story arc, she's been broken so hard that she gets a genuine Pet the Dog moment with X-23.
  • Empowered's Alpha Bitch Sistah Spooky. Because There Are No Therapists, underneath the glossy façade of her public persona lies a neurotic, popularity-obsessed mess of a woman. Which only makes what happens to her in volume 5 more tragic. By volume 6, It Got Worse.
  • In the Batman Reborn issues of Batman Damian Wayne went through this as a way of Rescued from the Scrappy Heap. Getting him to act less arrogant was a major factor in getting more fans to like him. Depending on who you ask, some think that this was always the planned arc for him.
  • In the Farscape comics, Scorpius is hit hard by this when he is press-ganged into serving the Kkore. After a lifetime of surviving and prospering with nothing but his wits and will, Scorpius believed himself to be the most awesome being in the universe. Meeting the Kkore taught him a very important lesson: No matter how good you are, there is always someone better. For the first time in his life, Scorpius is forced to acknowledge others as his superiors in every way.
  • In Tom Strong, when the supremely arrogant Nazi pilot Ingrid Weiss challenged Tom Strong and his African wife Dhalua, Dhalua completely and totally curbstomped her to such a degree that after Ingrid slinked away to lick her wounds, Dhalua calmly stated that Ingrid's spirit was broken beyond repair, and that she would never bother the Strong family again. Which she didn't.
  • This is one of the central themes of the graphic novel Asterios Polyp. We meet the main character in the middle of being broken, then flash back to him beforehand, when he was an award winner architect, (despite never having any of designs actually built) a snarky professor (who always found something sarcastic to say about the work of his students) and a happily married man. (Whose issues need to be the center of attention alienated his wife and eventually caused them to split.)

Fan Works

  • In this extensive novelization of the Dragon Age game, Trian Aeducan is put through this, with surprising results.
  • The fanfic Poor Princess puts Princess Morebucks from the Powerpuff Girls through the wringer, beginning with her getting disowned by her father.
  • Brox and, to a lesser extent, Grunnel in With Strings Attached.
    • Jeft qualifies too. He's an arrogant gamer Jerkass who thinks he's planned everything to perfection, and he treats everyone like shit, even his favorite character. He eats considerable crow at the end of the Third Movement.
    • And even Paul. He wades through endless hordes of skeletons, zombies, ghouls, and ghasts without a scratch, supremely confident in his invulnerability—but then he meets the wraiths....
  • Mordecai from Regular Show is sometimes made the Haughty in the fanfics and ends up breaking when Rigby gets killed/dies in some of those cliche yet untiring "Rigby dies and Mordecai suffers from it" fics.
  • Power Rangers GPX has three instances, two heroic and one villainous. Let's take a look:
    • Sean O'Callahan, the Red Ranger. Prior to his, he'd been a more lightly arrogant Jerk with a Heart of Gold than other cases. However, by episode 12, it's implied being Red Ranger has gone to his head, especially because Green Ranger Daisuke Miyazawa had been a pain in the ass. After Daisuke mutinies and leaves the team, he spends the next chapter brooding over the result. It's cemented when he's beaten nearly half to death and he undergoes Character Development to become a more level-headed leader.
    • Daisuke Miyazawa, the Green Ranger. Unlike Sean, he is just plain arrogant and unwilling to accept Sean as leader because he sees Sean as unworthy. He constantly tries to undermine Sean's authority until he leaves the team, taking his sister with him. Two chapters later, he fights the main villain of the arc and is defeated and called out by his own sister for his actions. After being rescued by Sean and the other Rangers, he decides to leave the team.


  • Prince Henry (a hero, no less), Rodmilla, and Marguerite in Ever After.
  • Hilary Faye in Saved!
  • The Jedi Council is the bane of many a Star Wars fanfiction writer, particularly those writing about the KotOR era. It seems to be generally accepted by people that the council members are all a bunch of stuck up, worthless dicks who are completely wrong in their assessment of what leads to the Dark Side (apparently people forget that Obi Wan was a council member) and so many writers want to write about a character who gets one up on the council, which can range from mild humiliation to full blown mass murder. Of course, the problem is if a Jedi character does this, it automatically proves the council 100% correct. Mind, given the Council gets slaughtered by the Sith Lord they were hunting, who had manipulated them and the Republic into the Clone Wars, and who then stole their prized Chosen One...well, Palpatine kind of trumped any fanfic writers, didn't he?
    • Some of the politicians of the SW universe can be examples of this trope, such as Borsk Fey'lya.
  • Obviously, the "Pride" victim in Se7en, although she obviously didn't deserve to have her nose cut off, what happened next was nobody's fault but her own. Especially considering that she could have just gotten surgery to fix it.
    • First, we're dealing with a woman whose career was based on her looks. Maybe the plastic surgery can give her back a nose, but not necessarily one that will let her keep her job. Second, you have a young woman who was probably shown her own face with a bloody hole cut in the middle of her face. She's in pain, her disfigurement is, to forgive the express, plain as the nose that was on her face, and she's got a much more painless way out. Are we really expecting her to rationally weigh her options?
  • This is most of the plot of Spider Man 3. When Peter Parker puts on the black suit, he gets a swelled head and a severe case of testosterone poisoning, turning him into a Jerkass. Eventually he gets enough sense beaten into him that he goes back to being his old self again.
    • To be fair, the swelled head was already in play as the start of the film and he was already getting into a vengeance mood about certain events in the middle of the film; the suit just made them worse.
    • Pretty much all the younger characters in the movie got this.
      • Peter Parker's example is the main focus of the movie.
      • Mary Jane's jealousy of Peter's well-deserved-and-long-overdue recognition as Spider-Man serves as a catalyst for most of the film's plot. By the end, she and Peter have both been thoroughly humiliated and nearly killed, and their relationship has been all but ruined.
      • Harry's vendetta against Peter carries over from the last film. However, by this point it's become less about avenging his father than stroking his wounded ego. It eventually gets Harry's face blown half off. He later gets stabbed by Venom with his own glider, albeit after learning the truth and performing a Heel Face Turn.
      • Jerk Jock Eddie Brock's attempt to one-up Peter by snapping Spider-Man's first Black Suit outing ends with Spidey smashing his camera and dismissing him before leaving. Eddie then retaliates by plagiarizing Peter's previous Spidey photo to win the staff job. Peter not only gets Eddie fired from the only paper in New York that would hire him, but gets his job at double the salary. Eddie ultimately ends up getting blown up with the Venom symbiote he was using to kill Peter himself.
      • So far J. Jonah Jameson's had at least one Break the Haughty moment in each film: the Goblin destroying his office in the first, and MJ dumping his son at the altar in the second. The third film gives him a triple-whammy by forcing him to fire Eddie Brock for plagiarism, print a retraction in the next edition, and pay Peter Parker double the staff photographer salary. The look on his face as he watches Peter settle into his office is priceless.
      • Gwen Stacy wasn't so much haughty as she was one of Spider-Man's fangirls. The moment she realized how badly she was screwing up Peter and MJ's relationship, she apologized to her and bailed out on him, thereby averting the trope.
  • A slow-working example; in Groundhog Day, the entire purpose of the time loop in which the arrogant and narcissistic Phil Connors has found himself trapped is seems to be to take him down several pegs. Of course, from his perspective it doesn't seem so bad to start with; he can do whatever he wants, take advantage of whomever he wants and wakes up day-in day-out having avoided any of the consequences of his previous day's actions. Of course, the day keeps repeating, the woman he really wants to woo keeps rejecting him and despair gradually kicks in...
  • In the remake of The Stepford Wives, Joanna is a successful TV executive with a lineup of sleazy reality shows pitting the genders against each other, all of which pretty much stating that Women are superior to Men in every way. Then she gets shot by the guy who lost his wife during said gameshow, is fired as no network will take any of her ideas after the backlash, and has a nervous breakdown. And then her husband suggests that they move to Stepford...
  • In Kingdom of Heaven, Guy de Lusignian says that he will be the king of Jerusalem after Baldwin dies. He couples this with wanting to slaughter all of the Saracens in the Holy Land to have the Christians own it. After he murders Saladin's sister, Saladin retaliates by demanding the surrender of Jerusalem. Then Guy and all of his followers (the priest of the lot stating that if a Crusader army carry's Jesus's cross with it, they are undefeatable) go and try to fight him. Due to poor planning, the Christian army is easily beaten, and Guy captured and made to ride on the ass of an ass as the Saracen army laughs at him. In the director's cut, it doesn't do anything for him, as he still tries to kill Balian but is then beaten (again).
  • This is the entire plot of the 1930 German film The Blue Angel: a proud professor (played by Emil Jannings) becomes infatuated with burlesque singer Lola (Marlene Dietrich) and, after a one-night stand, they get married. He leaves his well-respected job, comfortable apartment, and quaint village to go on the road with the troupe, where he slowly discovers that Lola is not as faithful as he is. Over the next few years, his pride and humanity are methodically stripped away as he is forced to perform more and more embarrassing acts. At the climax of the film, the troupe returns to his village and, dressed as a clown, he has eggs broken over his head and is forced to crow like a rooster in front of a crowd of his former students and colleagues. Then he finds out Lola is leaving him for another man. Then he kills himself. What do you expect, it's a German movie.
  • Happened to star player Boobie in Friday Night Lights. The kicker is that it's not just predictable characterization; it actually happened in real life!
  • Brent from Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs. He starts off an arrogant jerk, riding on the fame he garnered as a baby, but once Flint's food replicator gets going, he sees his status in the town drop like a rock, until he is booed by the very same people who were cheering for him mere days earlier.
  • The movie Trading Places where Dan Aykroyd does Exactly What It Says on the Tin.
    • Then later, Dan's revenge against the Dukes who are broken spectacularly as a result.
  • This is the title character's chosen method of revenge in The Count of Monte Cristo.
  • Stephen Chow uses this trope a few times.
    • Golden Leg from Shaolin Soccer starts as an arrogant football ace who is so stuck up he makes his teammates kneel so he can put his foot on them to tie his laces. Within minutes he is crippled and after a Time Skip we see he is now living off a charity job as a gopher for a former teammate.
    • God of Cookery
  • A number of Katharine Hepburn films revolve around Hepburn's character getting this treatment, as in The Philadelphia Story and Woman Of The Year.
  • This is the driving motivation behind the Villain Protagonists in The Final. Rather than kill their pretty, popular classmates, they instead horribly torture and mutilate them so that, when they go back to school crippled and disfigured, they will know what it's like to be at the bottom of the Popularity Food Chain.
  • The entire point of the 'dragon balls' scene in Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince.
  • 1, in the movie Nine. He starts out as a Jerkass Well-Intentioned Extremist, and isn't very sympathetic at the beginning...then the church, the place he led seven of the others to and kept them safe in, burns to the ground when a machine attacks. Then the revelation that he sent one of the others out to die comes to light and he loses a great deal of trust and respect. Then his bodyguard and pretty much the only thing close to a friend he has is killed. Ouch.
  • It was quite fun watching the victims' terror just before they were attacked in Dead Friend (aka The Ghost), considering what haughty bitches they were in the past. The movie even emphasizes how cruel and nasty they were in flashbacks.
  • James Bond goes through this in Casino Royale, first getting lectured by M, then loses to Le Chiffre in Poker, then gets captured, stripped, and tortured via Groin Attack[1], but the one that really does him in is falling in love with and getting betrayed by Vesper Lynd. Le Chiffre himself goes through this as well after his Evil Plan fails, getting attacked by the Africans he owes money to, losing to Bond after he thought Bond was out of the game, and then dying after scratching Bond's balls.
  • UHF: The antagonist R. J. Fletcher and his son, who both work at the successful network affiliate station both fit this trope. Fletcher has his station taken off the air by the FCC for being a Jerkass. The last scene in which we see Fletcher's son has him trip and fall in the mud and then pouting about it.
  • After revealing himself to be a reckless and arrogant Blood Knight and instigating a war between the Frost Giants and Asgard, Thor was cast out of Asgard by his father, Odin, and forced to live as a mortal to teach him humility.
  • Abbot Cellach, from The Secret of Kells. He controls the Village of Kells and has them build a wall around it to protect them from the Viking invaders. However, he doesn't let the monks do anything else and punishes to anyone who tries. Then the Vikings break down the gate, climb over the walls, burn the village down, and shoot him with a burning arrow. The people he was trying to save die because he paid more attention to the wall than the steps into the only protected building in Kells, and he gets stabbed trying to get to Brendan, who he had locked in the Scriptorium prior to the invasion as punishment for illuminating. Said Scriptorium burns down, and he’s lead to believe for nearly twenty years that he had caused the death of his twelve-year-old nephew.
  • Sister Clodagh's arc in Black Narcissus is all about this trope: she's too proud of her new position as the Order's youngest Superior, lacks the spiritual resources to adequately counsel her nuns (one of whom is rapidly going insane), and is increasingly beset by memories of her own Unrequited Love.


  • "My name is Ozymandias King of Kings..."
  • To err is human, but to really screw things up requires an elf. JRR Tolkien's The Silmarillion story Quenta Silmarillion is a story of the Elven pride, audacity, downfall and humiliation. Especially that of Fëanor and his sons, but also the rest of the Noldor.
  • Jane Austen's works have a lot of this trope.
    • Pride and Prejudice, of course: Mr. Darcy's obviously a rather haughty type who gradually realizes that he has to take himself down a peg or two; Elizabeth's own pride in her ability to judge people gets a few dents over the course of the novel, particularly from Mr. Darcy's letter; happens to Mr. Collins when Elizabeth refuses to marry him; and to Lady Catherine when Elizabeth refuses to promise that she will not marry Darcy.
    • It also happens in Emma, where Emma is forced to realize how little she knows about matchmaking. She also publicly humiliates a poor, old, harmless spinster who had been a family friend for years and partly depended on Emma's charity. Spinster's reaction was "I will try to hold my tongue. I must be very disagreeable, or she wouldn't say such a thing to an old friend". Emma then gets the Break the Haughty of her lifetime by some guy whom she eventually marries.
    • And Northanger Abbey, where Catherine is forced to realize what an idiot she had been treating Real Life as if it were a gothic novel...
    • ... And Sense and Sensibility where Marianne has to realize how idiotic she behaved toward Willoughby, and confesses that her illness stems from neglecting her health in a manner she knew to be wrong at the time...
    • ... And Mansfield Park, after Fanny learns You Can't Go Home Again and is initially shocked and disgusted by her fiery sister Susan's way of handling herself in the dysfuctional Price household. After further exposure to the evils of Susan's home, Fanny soon grows to respect and admire her and understand her coping mechanisms, and the two sisters become best friends.
      • Her uncle Sir Thomas certainly qualifies, after discovering how poorly he had raised his daughters.
  • Mostly averted in the Artemis Fowl series: the title character starts the series as practically hubris incarnate but, while he learns important lessons in friendship and respect, he himself never falls quite as hard as one might expect.
  • Prince Hubert (better known as "Prince Brat") in the novel The Whipping Boy by Sid Fleischman.
  • In The Wheel of Time series, the Aes Sedai order of channelers (mages) get hit by this. Repeatedly. 'Kneel, Aes Sedai, or you shall be knelt!' Especially notable because the Aes Sedai tend to see themselves above royalty, so being ordered by three farmboys is one of the main reasons to read the books.
  • This is a recurring theme of CS Lewis's The Horse and His Boy. Bree, the proud war horse constantly bragging about all the battles he's been in, is humbled when Shasta shows more courage than he does against a lion. The Tsundere Aravis is reluctant to accept that part of being a Rebellious Princess Runaway Fiance is losing the privileges of being a princess until Shasta, "a rude, common little boy," impresses her in the same incident. Then, of course, there's the proud and spoiled Prince Rabadash, who is turned into a donkey as punishment.
    • Also features in The Voyage of the Dawn Treader. Eustace has an (unjustified) superior attitude towards everyone around him (especially towards the non-humans) and considers himself above such mundane tasks as setting up camp and sneaks off on his own to explore the island. He gets hopelessly lost and then turned into a dragon for sleeping on a dragon's hoard while thinking greedy thoughts. This actually seems like it would be pretty fun, but Eustace is doesn't have the right mindset to be able to enjoy it; also, being turned into a dragon has some serious drawbacks since he can't speak and can't go on with the ship because he's too heavy and eats too much.
  • Sansa Stark from George R. R. Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire. Starts as shallow, sheltered, naïve little girl and is repeatedly taken advantage of and abused by all attractive males with whom she comes into contact. The only people who treat her well are Tyrion Lannister and Sandor Clegane, both of who are hideously deformed.
    • While she is rather snobby to her sister, Sansa may be more an example of Break the Cutie. Now if you want a serious example of Break the Haughty, you need look no further than Jaime Lannister.
    • Cersei too, most definitely her naked walk through the streets of King's Landing.
    • Stannis undergoes this as he finds no one cares about his right to be king and his insistence on honor and justice is a great hindrance. His armies are beaten, his fleet destroyed, and his allies abandon him. However, because he is incredibly stubborn, he absolutely refuses to give up his fight. He does, however, realize that he needs to save the people to win the throne, rather than the other way around. This leads to his Big Damn Heroes moment at the end of Book 3.
    • Theon after being captured by Ramsay Bolton ends up the most thorough example by far, losing several fingers and toes, most of his teeth, possibly being castrated, sent to sleep in a dog kennel, and turned into a Replacement Goldfish for Ramsay's servant Reek. By the end he's afraid to think his own name. He gets slightly better.
    • Viserys, the former prince of the Seven Kingdoms, whose life after exile has been one long Humiliation Conga. He is, for the most part, an Asshole Victim. Viserys still believes himself the rightful King of Westeros and the last hope of House Targaryen, referring to Robert Baratheon as "the Usurper". After selling off his younger sister to a warlord, he goes through constant humilation traveling with them, believing that the Dothraki are simply savages he can control. He meets his demise after insulting his pregnant sister in front of her warlord husband, who kills him by pouring molten gold over his head, "crowning" him.
  • The Bible contains several examples, and most major world religions tend to have moral lessons against the dangers of pride.
    • In Exodus, this is applied to the whole of Egypt. Pharaoh defies Yahweh, refusing to free the Hebrew slaves. Yahweh proceeds to turn the Nile to blood, unleash hordes of frogs, lice, and beasts, inflicts a plague on the animals and boils on the humans, rains burning ice on the land, sends a swarm of locusts to attack their fields, covers the land in darkness, and kills every Egyptian firstborn save Pharaoh. Pharaoh gives in, but changes his mind and ends up dying because of it.
  • Josef K., the protagonist of The Trial, is a pompously self-important bank manager whose reaction on being arrested in his apartment is outrage at such minor officials daring to bother him. Over the course of the novel he finds out that he has much less power than he thought. Whether any moral lessons emerge is questionable, though.
  • In Wintersmith, Granny Weatherwax got to break two haughties for the price of one. Annagramma Hawkin is Alpha Bitch to the new generation of witches, and because Granny suggested Tiffany Aching to take over an open spot, Annagramma got it instead. Annagramma's teachings by that point ill-prepared her for real-world witchcraft and forced her to seek aid from the others of her group. This served to teach Annagramma what witchcraft was and prove that her teacher Mrs. Earwig didn't teach witchcraft properly.
  • Can be said for each of the Malfoys, specifically Draco and Narcissa in Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, following Lucius being added to this trope in Harry Potter and The Deathly Hallows.
    • The pwnage starts as early as Chamber of Secrets, when Lucius gets his ass handed to him by his own former house elf.
    • Gilderoy Lockhart may also be a partial example, starting when he is forced to follow through on all his bogus claims.
  • The female alien spaceship captain Thora da Zoltral in the longrunning (1961-ongoing) German Science Fiction series Perry Rhodan. Considering that her people, the humanoid Arkoniden, were (in)famous for their arrogance and haughtiness towards "lesser" races, as well as their ruthless empire-building and Manifest Destiny worldview (basically imagine the Roman and British Empires and Imperial Japan rolled into one), Thora had a lot of pride to swallow when circumstances forced her to accept help from and to ally with the "barbarians" from planet Earth, who had just performed their first manned moon landing and discovered the shipwrecked alien spaceship there. Her brother, the gentle and open-minded scientist Crest, fared a lot better in adjusting his mindset to new ideas.
  • Nathaniel of The Bartimaeus Trilogy by Jonathan Stroud, particularly in the third book.
    • Unfortunately, this also leads to his Heroic Sacrifice. It was all well and good that Nathaniel became a better person, but by then you realized the book was almost over and when you put two and two together...
  • Prince Roger Ramius Sergei Alexander Chiang MacClintock from David Weber's "March Upcountry."
  • In The Railway Series, this is done fairly often. Especially to Gordon the Big Engine. Early example: After Henry is shut up in a tunnel as punishment for refusing to leave said tunnel, Gordon makes a habit of mocking him every time he passes by. Until one day, Gordon stalls from a burst safety valve in front of the replacement tunnel, much to Henry's amusement. A repentant Henry is let out to help Edward pull Gordon's train - the express he then prided himself on being the only one to pull.
  • In Master of the Game, Kate Blackwell decides to disinherit her favorite granddaughter Eve—whom she had chosen to inherit her company—when it becomes clear that she's a Complete Monster who believes the world should revolve around her and has tried more than once to kill her innocent sister Alexandra simply for existing. Eve winds up on a living allowance that's just enough to afford a small, unfashionable New York City apartment. Unfortunately, this doesn't break Eve because she is an excellent Gold Digger and thus free to continue plotting against Alexandra and Kate.
  • Happens to both Denethor and Boromir in The Lord of the Rings.
  • Virgil suggested that the motto of the Roman Empire was parcere subjectis et debellare superbos, which means something like "To spare the humble and with war to crush the proud."
  • In the Mortal Instruments series, the Inquisitor gets a glorious one in the second book. After being nothing but condescending to Jace merely because he's the son of the Big Bad, she finds out that her plan to trade Jace to Valentine for the two Mortal Instruments that he has isn't going to work, because despite what she thought, Valentine doesn't care about Jace, only the instruments. This causes her to have a Freak-Out and a bsod until Maryse snaps her out of it.
  • In Robert E. Howard's Conan the Barbarian story "The People of the Black Circle" the wizard subjects Yasmina to reliving all her past lives to humble her with slavery, torture, rape, poverty, and being hunted by predators. It works to the extent that she is madly grateful to see Conan, though she remembers she's a queen rather quickly.
  • John Norman's Gor novels do not so much use this trope as harp on it to the point where it really becomes little more than a Take That to women who are not slaves. One example includes a viking queen named Hilda the Haughty (sic) as well as another viking queen named Bera - who end up as slaves, side by side, and emphatically happy about it. And the first, arguably not-too-bad novel in the series has this as an important part of it, too.
  • Fate/Zero gives us the aritoscratic prick Lord El-Melloi Kayneth Archibald. Thinking he's entitled to all of the niceties that have been handed to him, and claiming a vain sort of chivalry in the form of a Worthy Opponent, he walks into battle against Kiritsugu with disdain, thinking it's all beneath him. He scoffs when Kiritsugu sprays a shower of low caliber rounds at his perfect defense. Then Kiritsugu tricks Kayneth's defense and blasts him in the shoulder with a 30.06 A fluke! This vermin thinks he's won? Look, he's trying the same trick again. The same trick won't work twice on the Lord El-Melloi-- Then Kiritsugu fires his Origin Bullet, permanently crippling and stripping Kayneth of magecraft. By the end, the once-proud Kayneth resorts to desperately accepting a cease-fire. And gets mowed down with a machine gun. Kick the Son of a Bitch ended way before the end.
  • This is pretty much the main plot of Eustacia Goes to the Chalet School. Take the titular girl, an Insufferable Genius with academic parents, a Missing Mom and a set of relatives who barely pay attention to her. Put her in the Chalet School, where her arrogance and tale-bearing make her unpopular with the other girls. Add a nasty accident that results in Eustacia being seriously injured and disabled, and voila! You have a sadder, wiser and nicer character who realises the error of her ways.
  • Lionblaze from Warrior Cats started out arrogant and battle obsessed, and trained under his grandfather Tigerstar to become a great warrior. Then in at the end of the Power of Three arc, he learned that he was actually a bastard, and Tigerstar was just using him for his power. He still remained somewhat arrogant, until Night Whispers, where his love interest Cinderheart left him because he had to focus on his destiny and couldn't be distracted, leading to him becoming much more humble and less battle-hungry.
  • At the start of X-Wing Rogue Squadron Corran Horn enters the squadron arrogant and showboaty, and while a great pilot thinks solo instead of as part of a team. To correct this, squadron lead Wedge puts the team through a training simulator one at a time with Corran first, then has him stand as his team mates complete the simulation and all score far better. After Corran's confusion and annoyance it's revealed Corran's run functioned as a scouting run, so everyone but Corran had prior knowledge of the targets, and verbally berates him for his failure to work as part of a team. This does fix Corran's teamwork issues, though traces of arrogance remain his primary character flaw causing his near death in a public restroom later in the series, and again after going alone to taunt Exar Kun's wraith in I, Jedi learning it's not as powerless as he thought since they're in Exar Kun's temple.

Live-Action TV

  • Gaius Baltar goes through various Humiliation Congas over the course of Battlestar Galactica but Magnificent Bastard that he is, he remains consistently haughty.
  • There are several episodes of The Prisoner in which Number Two's over-confidence in his ability to break Number Six ends up being his own downfall. One episode in which this theme is used very prominently is "Hammer Into Anvil".
  • Pretty much the entire point of Leverage. Typically, the villain is some type of corporate sleaze who tends to be either arrested, finanically ruined, and/or put through a Humiliation Conga by the end of the episode.
    • Averted in "The Carnival Job", where Elliot lampshades this. Nate only replies, "It's not a requirement, it's a bonus".
  • Practically every other episode of The Twilight Zone.
  • This happened to Paige in Degrassi the Next Generation. Before she was broken she was not just mean, but had no personal problems.
    • There's also Emma in season four. It's not so much meanness as self-righteousness, but after the school shooting, everything starts going downhill.
    • This could be said for pretty much any Degrassi character with the slightest trace of arrogance in general—the higher the character holds their head, the harder they fall.
  • Priscilla of R.L. Stine's R. L. Stine's The Haunting Hour: Don't Think About It Volume One: Don't Think About It is such an ego balloon, you know she's going to be a prime candidate for the pin treatment. We start with a piñata sabotaged with cockroaches that spill out all over her when she breaks it. Later, she suffers the indignity of Evil Thing webbing. She doesn't seem to get it, as an offered ride home by the Papa John's boy is harshly turned down.
  • Cordelia has been put through the Humiliation Conga more times than are countable on both Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel.
  • Happens to Prue in the Charmed episode "Death Takes A Halliwell" where she is convinced she is meant to stop the Angel of Death and he gives her a Reason You Suck Speech that actually makes the superwitch break down. A similar thing happens to her again in an episode where she gets infected with Pride. The only way to beat that sin is to be saved by someone else so it's a rather big blow to her ego.
  • In Community, much of Jeff's character arc basically involves getting him down from his high horse by any means necessary, usually through a combination of humiliation and good old-fashioned Character Development.
  • Played with in House M.D. in the Tritter subplot and subsequent rehab, but subverted in the end when House reveals he's still...well, House.
    • Played straight in the Season 5 finale. He realizes that he's going insane and finally casts aside his pride to get treatment.
  • M*A*S*H did this all the time with Major Winchester, especially the occasional failing and having to rely on others. Sometimes resulted in legitimate Character Development and sometimes not.
    • Subverted in "Major Topper", where Winchester was set up for this, but it turned out he was right/had been telling the truth.
  • Jool from Farscape looked perfectly set to be The Scrappy in her first appearance. Most of the rest of her time on the show consisted of this trope applied very thoroughly, with her suffering such indignities as being told the liquid she's been drinking is actually urine, and having to slog through a waist high swamp of bat feces.
  • Q, in the Star Trek: The Next Generation episode "Deja Q", is stripped of his powers. Within the first five minutes of his appearing on the bridge of the Enterprise, he's forced to wear a really awful outfit, has Troi announcing to the entire crew that he's terrified, and is thrown in the brig. Later things get worse. Oh, and he gets stabbed in the hand with a fork.
  • Celia, resident Stepford Smiler Rich Bitch of Weeds, goes through an incredible amount of Break the Haughty, culminating in her being kidnapped in Mexico and almost killed and sold for organs by her daughter. It doesn't work; she still maintains her old attitude despite her laughable situation.
  • Joan in Mad Men gets one Break the Haughty arc every season.
    • She starts out the show as the queen bee of the office. As the head of the secretarial pool and mistress of one of the partners, she's doing about as well as a woman can in the professional world of 1960. She openly mocks Peggy's desire to be more than a secretary.
    • In season two, the wheels start to come off the wagon for her: it's revealed that Joan is in her thirties and unmarried, which is very embarrassing at the time; then she gets just a taste of a more fulfilling career when she fills in briefly in the television department, only to have the figurative door slammed in her face; and then she gets raped by her fiance. At season's end, she's in denial about the latter, and glumly watches as Peggy moves into her own office (closing a literal door in her face).
    • In season three, she's married to her rapist and must listen as he complains about his failures as a surgeon. He also makes Joan subvert her own wishes and desires and leave the agency (because he's ostensibly the "breadwinner"). Her departure in "Guy Walks Into an Advertising Agency" is heartbreaking, proving she's the sole person in the company to go above and beyond her position. She gets a position in a department store (due to her former lover's influence) and is generally miserable, until Sterling-Cooper-Draper-Pryce is formed. Joan is Roger Sterling's first call when they need "someone who knows how this place runs" and becomes a member of the new agency.
    • In season four, Joan starts out almost as successful as she was in season one. She has her own office and takes part in the partner's meetings. While the junior execs may not respect her personally, even they acknowledge she's one of the two people who "really" run SCDP (the other being CFO Lane Pryce). While her marriage is still miserable, her husband has decided to enlist in the Army and is being sent to Vietnam. As of the most recent episode, Joan's been brought down again when it's revealed that she's pregnant with Roger's child as the result of a one-night stand they'd had, and is pretending it's her husband's after letting Roger believe she's had an abortion.
    • Pete Campbell also gets one of these. He starts as an arrogant, entitled bully who more or less rapes Peggy and struts around Sterling Cooper as though he owns the place. Repeated humiliations at the hands of Roger, Don, and even Bert Cooper, plus his inability to conceive with his wife Trudy, plus his family's continued problems, end up destroying his pretensions...and end up turning him into a much better man, an excellent account executive, a good husband, and (gasp!) a sympathetic character.
  • Jack Donaghy learned how the other half lives when he got a case of the bedbugs and he had to get around by subway. Since Status Quo Is God his humbling is only temporary.
  • We have a scene in ER, where two rich bitches were making fun of Abby and Neela. After one of them twisted her ankle and Neela went to check on her, she told Neela to get her hands off of her and that she wanted a second opinion, even after Neela told her she was a doctor. So Neela calmly went up to Abby for the second opinion and Abby told the lady that she had a twisted ankle and that she's a bitch.
  • Averted on The West Wing: on his N-tieth birthday, Josh is glorified by the papers as "the 101st senator" and the President's get-it-done man. The same day he loses a blue-dog Senator to the Republicans forever and has his portfolio heavily reduced because of it. However, Josh himself was actually very insistent on downplaying the story (and his birthday), not that it helped him.
  • Logan in Veronica Mars. He starts out as a Jerkass who torments Veronica whenever he gets a chance, and then nearly every tragedy that could possibly happen to him happens. He's probably the best example of a Jerkass Woobie on recent television.
  • One could argue that this is what the third season of The Big Bang Theory conspired to do to Sheldon. It didn't work, though...
    • He did get a (for him) painful come-uppance in The Jiminy Conjecture, when he was shown to be wrong about the species of cricket the boys had been hearing. Causing him to lose a prized comic book over a bet
  • Londo Mollari and G'Kar start Babylon 5 as prime examples of arrogance (what with being ambassadors of galactic Great Powers and all). Then Character Development happens. Both come out enlightened, and—to their amazement--friends.
    • Shikira is the head of the warrior caste and an arrogant Smug Snake who wishes to rule Minbar by force. He is challenged to a Combat by Self-Immolation by Delenn with the taunt that he is really a Miles Gloriosus . He of course fails the challenge as Delenn does not fail(and has to be rescued by Neroon). Thus Shakira is shown to be a Dirty Coward in front of millions of Minbari .
  • The plot of one episode of The Adventures of Superboy was a total homage to The Terminator, where a robot is sent from the future to kill Superboy and a woman is sent to warn him. Superboy foolishly brushes off the warnings, after all, he's Superboy, right? In their first battle, he gets a No-Holds-Barred Beatdown from the robot, who is way stronger than him and can resist his punches and heat vision.
  • On Sons of Anarchy, Agent Stahl tries to do this to the titular motorcycle gang by turning their 'prince' Jax into a 'rat' who informs to the ATF in exchange for a deal. It backfires completely since the gang knows what is going on and uses it to setup Stahl and get their prison sentences reduced by 12 years.
    • And then it's done to Stahl herself when Opie kills her. She breaks down crying and begins begging for her life.
  • Happens to C.C. Babcock throughout The Nanny, with good reason.
  • Fringe tends to torture its characters.
    • Walter's backstory.
    • Fauxlivia goes from Smug Snake to Heartbroken Badass in both Season 3 and 4.
    • Dear God... Peter. He was a bit of a self-centered Jerkass at the start of season 1. Four seasons later... he gets infected, captured and/or tortured a few times. Has something of an identity crisis when he discovers that he was kidnapped from an alternate universe. Possibly responsible for the apocalypse. Erased from existence for a while. When he came back everyone he knew and love didn't remember him. Had a son he didn't know about until it was too late. His girlfriend gets shot in the head. Twice. No happy ending in two different Bad Futures. This man cannot catch a break.
  • Sherlock goes through a major wringer in Series 2, especially "The Reichenbach Fall." By the end, he's seen as a fraud, a criminal and a corpse.
    • The most prominent example (found in "The Reichenbach Fall") would be how his constant belittling and insulting of the police makes it that much easier for them to swallow the lie that Sherlock faked and orchestrated all his cases to show how clever he was.



"Okay, so what do you think you're Elvis or something?"

  • Rin/Rilliane in all the Vocaloid songs of the Story of Evil.

Mythology/Fairy Tales

Professional Wrestling

  • Behind the scenes a lot of older wrestlers in the locker room like to invoke this trope against new guys coming in, whether they deserve it or not. Examples include The Miz who got kicked out of the locker room for getting crumbs on Bradshaw's bag and Melina who got humiliated in front of the entire locker room for being shy and not talking to many people.
    • This has something to do with locker room etiquette. New wrestlers are meant to introduce themselves to the locker room and shake everyone's hand. If someone doesn't do this, the wrestlers assume they're full of themselves and the punishment ensues. Either that or they're just jerkasses.
  • Often a major staple of a Heel Face Turn notably with Randy Orton when he was ousted from Evolution.
  • A recent little storyline came with the breakup of Lay Cool. Layla, after alienating all the other divas on the roster, got betrayed by her BFF Michelle and was challenged to a loser leaves WWE match. Before the match Layla apologised for her actions to the rest of the divas.
  • Professional Wrestling actually has a long standing tradition stating that rookies and newcomers to the business must be hazed mercilessly. Back in the old days it was partly to protect kayfabe - it was assumed that anyone who could endure a couple years worth of hazing and abject beatings would have the character to "protect the business". Although kayfabe is buried, many promotions still engage in deliberate systemized hazing of newcomers as a way to instill "discipline". The locker room etiquette mentioned above is heavily tied into it. Younger wrestlers are supposed to introduce themselves to everyone, shake hands very gently with all the veterans, and then keep their mouths shut except to volunteer to help people (carry bags, untie boots, etc) and thank their locker room superiors for giving them a chance to work.


  • In Antigone, Creon suffers this fate when after he has the title character executed, his son and wife both commit suicide, leaving him alone and wishing for death.
    • Practically a requirement for any Greek tragedy, really. Pride, as noted above, was their favorite sin to attack.
  • Oedipus Rex: Oedipus.
  • This is the Villain Protagonist by the third act of any Christopher Marlowe play. (Tamberlaine, The Jew of Malta, Doctor Faustus, etc.)
  • Shakespeare's The Taming of the Shrew is, more or less, the story of a violent rich woman getting everything she threw at others thrown back at her face. By the end, she learns what a Jerkass she'd been and treats her Arranged Marriage husband with decency and respect. Unfortunately, there's a fair amount of over-the-top chauvinism going on.
  • Shakespeare's Twelfth Night also has a good example of this, where the arrogant and obnoxious steward Malvolio is tricked into thinking his employer Olivia is in love with him. He is persuaded to behave and dress in entirely inappropriate ways, all the while thinking this is exactly what she wants, and ends up being locked in a dungeon for lunacy before being released for a final dose of verbal humiliation at the end of the play.
  • A Streetcar Named Desire is a deconstruction of this type of story, questioning why Stanley needs to see Blanche brought down. It's because he's a bully who can't stand the fact that, after all that's already happened to her, she's still an idealist.
  • Angels in America: Roy Marcus Cohn is introduced as a man who can get just about anything he wants, and will happily flaunt it. By halfway through part two, he is wasting away in a hospital bed from AIDS, alone and friendless.
  • Athena, helped along by Ajax himself, does a stellar job of turning Ajax from the best warrior on the Greek side to a madman held in complete ridicule and anger by the army. When the madness is removed and he realizes all this, he kills himself.

Video Games

  • Princess Kara goes through this in Illusion of Gaia. At the start of the game, she's a complete and total snob who never stops complaining about the trip, never seems to do anything useful, and needlessly gets herself into trouble. She gets called on this several times, by different characters, at length. Player Character Will even gives her a few when they're stranded together on a life raft when she refuses to eat the fish he catches for them. The game really starts rubbing it in Kara's face when her pet pig, Hamlet, jumps onto a fire to be roasted rather than let Kara be eaten by starving cannibals. Thankfully, all of this is part of her Character Development, and by the end of the game, she at least acknowledges what a load she's been to the rest of the group.
  • Luke Atmey in Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney: Trials and Tribulations. An Ace Detective with an overinflated ego, turns out to be a blackmailer and a killer and his whole reputation comes crashing down.
    • Hell, T&T had a field day with this trope. Remember Winston Payne's rapid hair loss? Or Dahlia's exorcism/HumiliationConga?
    • Edgeworth and Franziska are the most important main characters to undergo this. For Edgeworth confronting the truth of not only his father's death but the true nature of his beloved mentor changes his personality for later appearances. Franziska's experiences in the second game makes her see the light that there are more things in the world than being perfect.
  • Kolorado from Paper Mario is a famous and respected archaeologist... by people who've merely heard of his accomplishments. However, "He's bold, I'll give him that! Bold and certifiably insane..." as anyone who actually has to work with him can attest. He often runs into situations where it'd be more prudent to stand back and take stock of things before proceeding. This tendency burns him quite literally a few times in Mt. Lavalava, Yoshi Island's volcano.
    • To be fair, it's made clear that it isn't because he's a bad guy, but just because he's really excited about discovering these artifact and would do near anything to get them. Plus he kind of wins in the end.
  • Luke Fon Fabre in Tales of the Abyss: He first gets a minor Pride Before a Fall in the beginning when he's teleported halfway across the globe and stranded without any friends or resources in a place where his family name is a death sentence. This doesn't do much except inconvenience him. Then, he's betrayed by his mentor, chewed out and abandoned by his True Companions, and finally discovers he's a clone of one of the villains who was created to die in the villain's stead. At which point, he pretty much snaps.
  • Sonia in Fire Emblem 7 at the moment of her death, when she discovers she's actually one of the morphs she despises so much and has basically been duped by Nergal all this time into thinking she was the one perfect human.
    • An even more tragic example in FE 4: Alvis. First he's a Magnificent Bastard / Well-Intentioned Extremist who successfully kills Sigurd (after stealing his wife Diadora), turns other Grandbell rulers against each other, kills them and becomes emperor of all of Jugdral. Then Manfroy intervenes and soon Alvis has lost his children, the woman he loved (aka Sigurd's wife), and control of his empire. Oh, and his beloved brother Azel died at some point and his own son is trying to usurp his throne, whereas his daughter has been missing for a while already after said son attacked her and killed their mother. No wonder he's so haggard by the time we see him again in the second half of the game.
  • The Camarilla ending of Vampire: The Masquerade Bloodlines has your Bad Boss Prince Lacroix reduced to the level of begging at your feet for the game's MacGuffin, sniveling and whimpering about the inevitable Kuei-Jin invasion until he's finally arrested.
    • The Anarch and Lone Wolf endings feature him first being slashed half to death with a letter opener, then reduced to sniveling and whimpering, before finally finding himself on the business end of one of the most explosive Xanatos Gambits in history.
    • In the same game there's also Imalia, a female Nosferatu, who used to be a model. She was so hot that she was elected by a men's magazine the "The Most Ridiculously Hot Girl of The Year". Of course things changed drastically when she was Embraced by Gary and became a hideous vampire.
      • This is also standard practice for the Nosferatu in the tabletop version of Masquerade. There's a whole subset of Nosferatu nicknamed "Cleopatras"—beautiful people who got everywhere on their looks alone and who were Embraced to teach them a cruel lesson about what the ugly people went through.
  • Hangvul the Holier Than Thou leader of the Dwarven Rune Priests from Heroes of Might and Magic V goes through a pretty epic case of this in Tribes of the East. You know you've screwed up big time when your magma dragon god denounces you as a faithless moron and proclaims that the rival you considered to be a heretic will be the new king of the Dwarves.
  • Bastila Shan of Knights of the Old Republic endures this; when she fights Revan on the Star Forge, she's sure she'll win; Revan promptly kicks her ass three times in a row, which forces Bastila to face that she was wrong to choose the dark side, and that the only thing holding her back was herself. It sort of made her into the Woobie.
  • The fifth arc of Umineko no Naku Koro ni has an extreme, downright cruel example: Yes, we know by now that Eva is a Rich Bitch. But was it really necessary to kill both her son George and her husband Hideyoshi!?
  • In World of Warcraft, the Kingdom of Gilneas and its king, Genn Greymane are notorious for isolationism, believing that their country could withstand any enemy force without aid. After the Second War, Greymane angrily pulled Gilneas out of the Alliance and erected the Greymane Wall, to prevent anyone from entering or leaving the country. The wall managed to protect the country from the plague that created the Scourge, and also coldly shut out any Lordaeron refugees from entering. However, it did not protect them from the worgen curse emanating from nearby Shadowfang Keep, resulting in the people of Gilneas slowly being transformed into worgen. The Greymane Wall will be broken down in the upcoming expansion Cataclysm, and in a desperate attempt to save his people, King Greymane will turn to the very Alliance that he shunned so long ago.
    • Cataclysm, now released, really ran with this one hard, with Greymane especially. The worgen starting quests are basically watching Gilneas getting broken. Gilneas was already in a form of civil war when the worgen problem broke out. On top of that, the Forsaken invaded Gilneas, then on top of THAT Deathwing commenced the shattering which blasted a large portion of the country and broke the wall down. Greymane shows increasing levels of humility. He finally ends up teaming up with the head of the other side of the civil war after begging him and humbly showing that both were afflicted with the Worgen curse. After an unsuccessful attempt at taking the city back from the Forsaken, where Genn's son takes the arrow for him and dies. he turns to the Alliance he spurned and mercilessly left to die years ago.
  • In the third Jak and Daxter game, Veger gets his comeuppance when he discovers the Precursors (who he idolized) are ottsels, gets turned into an ottsel, and becomes Kleiver's sidekick. Almost makes you feel sorry for him... oh, wait, no it doesn't.
  • Asha, from Iji, suffers from this.
  • Donny Vermillion in StarCraft II suffers this big time. Before he's arrogantly and smugly defaming Jim Raynor and propping up the Dominion; when confronted with proof that the Dominion caused his brothers death and that Mengsk is just a power hungry asshole, he undergoes a mental collapse and is reduced to sitting in a hospital room IN HIS UNDERWEAR WHILE EATING PEANUT BUTTER OUT OF THE CAN IN ONE HAND AND HOLDING THE DOMINION MANIFESTO IN THE OTHER. Damn, karma's a bitch ain't it?
  • In Mass Effect 1, Saren gets an extended case of this that actually started before the game when he discovered Sovereign. He started out as an arrogant Knight Templar racist with ambitions to rule the galaxy using Sovereign's power. By the time you meet him in the game he is already just another indoctrinated slave to Sovereign's will.
  • In Portal 2, GLaDOS has some of this come her way. she's beaten by a corrupted idiot, gets put into a potato, almost eaten by a bird, travels with Chell extensively for three chapters, learns that Chell is a decent person, finds out who she is, and even sees how insane Wheatley is as the operator in a parody of herself. The irony is that in the end of the game she deletes all this information and goes back to being her old self, for better or worse, but still let's Chell go to her freedom. It's entirely possible that GLaDOS did learn something after all and considers Chell a friend, if not then she's simply getting rid of her biggest problem by sending it away.
  • Altaïr of Assassin's Creed is broken at the start of the first game. After violating all the clauses of the Assassin's Creed, he is publicly humiliated by Al Mualim and demoted to novice. His initial incentive in the game is to restore his previous high standing.
  • Prince Harry/Henry from Dragon Quest V, a spoiled prince who live his days pulling pranks on everyone, is kidnapped into slavery one day by the bad guys, and it completely cures his bad attitudes. His future son is still a brat, though.
  • Cheren from Pokémon Black and White goes through a variant of this; while not arrogant he has some ego issues and an obsession with being the strongest. After Alder makes him question what strength means he suffers a Heroic BSOD and ends up re-evaluating his stance.
  • Sakuya in Hatoful Boyfriend undergoes this in the Bad Boys Love route where he learns that he isn't a true pureblood and that the man he thought was his father was actually the one who ordered his egg to be abandoned and he would have been left to die had it not been for Yuuya -- the brother he has constantly disdained for his half-breed upbringing in the belief that he was only his less pure half-brother -- deciding to save him. And then Yuuya dies in front of him after saving his life once again.
  • The Legend of Zelda:Phantom Hourglass's Linebeck gets a bit of this at the end of the game. Bellum corrupts him and forces him to attack Link. Once the player defeats Bellum, Linebeck has a What Have I Done? moment before dropping to his knees and apologizing for his jerkassery.

Web Comics

  • In The Order of the Stick, despite being the resident Insufferable Genius, Vaarsuvius is still subjected to this - both figuratively and in a disturbingly literal way, as well. (spoilers ahoy!)
    • This happened to Vaarsuvius again when s/he confronted Xykon alone. Vaarsuvius seems to believe that only sheer magical power can fix things. And we thought it was just funny because s/he was a mage!
    • And let's not forget Miko, the haughty, self-righteous paladin who is convinced that she is an avatar of the gods. Not only does she discover how very untrue this is when she loses her paladin status, she is eventually bisected. Alive.
      • She never learned her lesson, she was deluding herself into thinking she was doing the gods' will up until the end.
  • Kharisma from Something*Positive was an example of this; she started out as a truly detestable vain, shallow, and selfish rich playgirl, but over the course of the series she lost all her money, received disfiguring burns to the face and head, was framed (sort of) for murder and then sent to prison for it, where the local prison warder and the other inmates conspired to make her life a living hell until she was freed by a misguided admirer during a prison transfer and had to resort to life as a fugitive. If the point was to make the audience feel bad for wishing bad things on her, it would be about right for S* P.
    • However, unlike Mike, who got a similar Break the Haughty moment for being a pretentious rules-lawyering jerkass, Kharisma hasn't changed that much, other than gaining a little blue monster imaginary friend.
  • 8-Bit Theater has Thief, a proud elf who somehow almost always can con anyone into anything using contracts to avoid repercussions. An attempt at this on a dragon has... different consequences.
  • In Drowtales, Val'Sharess Diva'ratrika, who was never the nicest person, earns her Jerkass Woobie status in a big way after being set up and betrayed by her daughters and trapped for a year in her throne room with only a single slave for company. Eventually she stops wearing clothes because they've gotten too dirty and deteriorates physically to the point that it's implied she starts hallucinating. It finally gets to the point that she effectively kills herself and transfers her aura to the slave, Ragini, so she can escape. This is how the Cloudcuckoolander Liriel came to be.
  • Morita of Red String gets broken very harshly. She goes from the top of the school, wanted by all the boys, envied by all of the girls to an outcast that no one will offer any help or friendship to and suffers constant humiliation from her former friends (including physical abuse). All this because she dared to turn her cruelty on someone more popular than she was.
  • The main cast of Rumors of War gets booster shots of Break the Haughty to immunize them against a Humiliation Conga, though Nenshe may be setting himself up for a fall by skipping out.
  • Alejandra Coldthorn from Las Lindas finally gets her break the haughty moment during the harvest festival. A classic example of the Rich Bitch, she gets brought down to earth thanks to Idward accidentally exposing her in front of a huge crowd.

Web Original

  • In The Gamers Alliance, Captain Amano and various other arrogant Yamatians suffer this fate when the rebels they thought of as "weak" end up beating their asses.
  • In Dimension Heroes, neither good nor evil are safe from this trope, most noticeably Wyn and Clonar.
  • In The Guild, Tink gets Bladezz to buy her more than he can afford by promising him sex. When she explains this to him, he gets revenge by deleting her character.
  • The Big Bad of Broken Saints is all as proud and self-righteous until Our Heroes ruin his grand plan.
    • Most of the villains in this series start off arrogant and end up humbled.
  • Trevor James Goodkind, scion of the wealthiest family on the planet, and one of a long line of mutant haters. Manifests as a mutant, gets kicked out of the family, gets horribly experimented on by his parent's Mad Scientist friend, gets treated like a dangerous criminal / animal, has to go live in the basement of a disgraced family member, loses his identity and most of his sexual characteristics, but gets Character Development out of it all. He's now Phase, a female (mostly) mutant who is building a name for herself, building her own business empire, and generally proving herself as being a capable person and not just riding his parent's coat-tails.
    • This is rather more pronounced with Tansy Walcutt, a gal who started off as head of the highest clique, and managed - eventually - to wind up imprisoned for nearly beating a fellow student to death.
  • Whenever The Nostalgia Critic starts thinking too much of himself, he's usually pretty quickly broken down. In Kickassia, he manages to avoid it for a while but the world's order is restored in the last episode.
    • In an interesting contrast, this was subverted by The Nostalgia Chick. The quasi-demonic forces of evil tried so very hard to break her down, but unlike her Spear Counterpart who falls almost instantly, she was too oblivious to even notice.
  • In Doctor Horribles Sing Along Blog, Captain Hammer is sent packing by his own arrogance when he pulls the trigger on Dr. Horrible's Death Ray despite the latter's attempt to warn him that it is malfunctioning. The explosion injures him for the first time in his life, revealing him as a Miles Gloriosus who flees upon feeling pain. He's later seen in therapy.

Captain Hammer: Ohhhh, I'm in pain! I think this is what pain feels like! Mama... someone maternal! GET OUT OF MY WAY!


Western Animation

  • The third season and end of the second season of Archer have seen the titular character take quite a bit of karmic retribution, including the death of his fiancee and possible biological father, and then his fiance being resurrected as a cyborg, only to leave Archer for the man who murdered her in the first place.
  • Any episode of SpongeBob SquarePants that centers on Squidward. The most subtle example must be the episode in which Squidward tries moving to a town of inhabitants who are just like him...only to end up so bored that he flips out. Naturally, the town haughtily expels him.
  • Zuko and his pre-series fall from royal prince to banished prince on Avatar: The Last Airbender, followed by his fall from banished prince to The Drifter.
    • And then, just when he had managed to return to the Fire Nation and regain his place as prince, he realized he'd been on the wrong side the whole time and went into exile again (this time voluntarily) to join forces with the Avatar. Of course, by that point the Good Guys were rather distrustful of Zuko's protestations that he had truly changed, considering he had (nearly) made a Heel Face Turn once before but then chose not to at a critical moment, so he had to swallow the last dregs of his pride and beg for another chance until they accepted him. And The Lancer actually told him that she'd kill him with her own hands, if he ever did something similar again. (Understandable, since she's The Hero's Violently Protective Girlfriend and the one who witnessed his botched Heel Face Turn.
    • Zuko's sister Azula also suffers a rather magnificent (read "psychotic") break. In the finale episode, Ozai names himself the Phoenix King and appoints Azula Fire Lord. She begins losing her mind, seeing visions of her Missing Mom, chopping off hanks of her hair, banishing almost all of her servants at random, and eventually challenges Zuko to Agni Kai, a firebending duel. She loses (eventually being defeated and captured by Katara), snaps completely, and it is later revealed that she is now in an asylum.
    • And let's not forget Ozai himself. Ruthless, arrogant Social Darwinist intent on destroying the world and rebuilding it in his own image until the Kid Hero royally kicks his ass and spiritually castrates him, leaving him to lie useless and pathetic on the ground while the hero's friends taunt him. Then, to add insult to injury, he's visited in his lonely prison cell by the son he banished and tried to kill...who is now the new Fire Lord.
  • In the sequel series, The Legend of Korra, Korra starts out frightened of Amon. Over the course of an episode she eventually gains her confidence back and challenges Amon to a one-on-one duel. Amon instead ambushes her with a dozen chi-blockers and confronts her, telling her that he can't defeat her yet, despite how easy it would be, as it would only turn her into a martyr. But he makes clear his intention to break her physically and psychologically and at the end, destroy her. After he leaves, the usually self-confident Korra completely breaks down.
  • Sentinel Prime of Transformers Animated getting his head taken off and his body taken over.
    • Also in Transformers Animated, Wasp is an arrogant, talented bully classmate of Bumblebee's. If he hadn't been such a jerk, maybe Bumblebee wouldn't have immediately suspected he was the Decepticon spy, and eventually gotten him sent to a prison so bad that when he finally escaped, he was reduced to a buzzing, muttering wreck with a bad optic twitch. Harsh.
    • Arguably, Sentinel has a better one when he first meets Blackarachnia, who is really Elita-1, his and Optimus' love interest who was led to her current fate by both boys. Made worse by the fact that he insults her before he realizes it is her. He is really broken up by this revelation, and goes so far to admit to Optimus that they should never have gone to the spider planet that caused her current condition. Mind you, he had taken every opportunity to mock Optimus about this failure before. There's another after that in "Decepticon Air", when Sentinel has to call on Optimus for help. After Optimus saves the day, Sentinel, in absolute seriousness, offers his comrade a place in the Elite Guard (which Optimus turns down politely) and salutes him as they part ways. Still, he's jealous as hell when Optimus ends up as the hero in the final episode.
  • Eric, in the Dungeons and Dragons cartoon.
  • Wile E. Coyote, in the several shorts where he faces off against Bugs Bunny, the Karmic Trickster. Each time he proudly announces at the beginning that he is a "Super-Genius." Always gets his comeuppance by the end, in one short declaring that "My name is Mud" and promptly keeling over unconscious.
    • And "Mud" spelled backwards is "Dum."
    • Bugs Bunny himself tends to fall victim to this in cartoons that feature Cecil Turtle.
  • Darkwing Duck underwent this plot so many times, it was highly gratifying to see him do it once to the Smug Super GizmoDuck.
  • Lex Luthor becomes a broken man in Justice League when his criminal activities are exposed by the League, and he learns that he's dying of cancer.
    • And that he gave himself the cancer by carrying radioactive Green Rocks for years. What? He's never heard of lead?
      • Notably, Luthor is one of those characters who recovers from this and comes back for more. His cancer is cured (courtesey of Brainiac), he begins a (feigned) campaign to become President of the USA, and later usurps Gorilla Grodd as leader of the Legion of Doom. Magnificent Bastard or what? However he gets this again when he accidentally resurrected Dark Seid.
  • On Total Drama Island, Heather often got hers in regards to her cruelty, but the second-to-last episode is what really did it. She gets a dare from Lindsay to shave her head, which is something she threatened to do to her several episodes ago. In a panic, Heather kicks the razor out of Chef's hand. It lands on her hair shaving her anyway. Then Chris tells her she's disqualified because technically she didn't accept the dare, resulting in an epic Villainous Breakdown. Then, in the special, she is shunned by everyone except Harold and eventually breaks down in tears.
    • Alejandro also suffers this in the final episode. Heather manipulates his feelings for her so that he'll hold off completing his victory to kiss her...and then promptly knees him the balls and pushes him down the mountain on a block of ice. After manipulating girls through love, Alejandro ultimately falls prey to the same tricks he used. And he gets burned by lava and stripped of his good looks. Now THAT is Karma.
  • One episode of Tales from the Cryptkeeper involves a narcissistic adventurer who's definitely more about the glory (including his good looks) than about the less attractive aspects. He and his trusty but scrawny sidekick enter a castle where a maiden is held prisoner by a vampire. In the end, the scrawny sidekick gets the maiden, and the adventurer gets turned into a vampire. Of course, his most lamented aspect of this development is that, as he has no reflection... "No more handsome checks!"
  • Happened to Ren from The Ren and Stimpy Show in the episode "Stimpy's Fan Club". Stimpy gets a lot of fanmail which stings at Ren's jealousy, since he doesn't get any. Throughout the episode, he figures out the ways to make himself important, his schemes ranging from taking up the role of Stimpy's Fan Club's president, to killing Stimpy. When he finally gets a fan letter, he gloats about it to Stimpy, pointing out that it's his turn to be a fan's favourite now, with some appropriate Ren-like exaggerating. His triumph fades out in an instant when he finds out the letter was from Stimpy himself.
  • Happens to Gunther, Professor Farnsworth's hyper-intelligent Jerkass monkey in the Futurama episode "Mars University" when his Amazingly Embarrassing Parents crash Parents Weekend.
  • David Xanatos from Gargoyles suffers this in "The Gathering". After being able to manipulate just about everything and everyone to his advantage for the entire series, he is suddenly faced with a Physical God hellbent on kidnapping his newborn son. Despite his best efforts, and even with the help of two of his worst enemies the Manhattan Clan and Halcyon Renard, he is ultimately completely helpless and unable to protect someone that is more important to him than wealth or power. For once Xanatos knows what it feels like to be a helpless victim.
    • There are well-done moments in that where for the first time, Xanatos hears his father say he's proud of him, and reacts to that, all David's wealth and power never impressed Petros Xanatos, but his efforts to defend his son do. Later, in the last scene we see David, his smirk is gone.
  • Lucius Heinous VII on Jimmy Two-Shoes has this happening to him frequently. Once it results in a short term Villainous Breakdown.
  1. which he admittedly takes in stride