Kids Are Cruel

Everything About Fiction You Never Wanted to Know.
Oh no, not again...

There is nothing more pure and cruel than a child.

Jet Black, Cowboy Bebop

It seems fictionland is inhabited by the worst bullies in existence, always ready to mock you and steal your lunch money, no matter what happened to you, you'll always be different from All of the Other Reindeer. Not even the Littlest Cancer Patient gets a break. Especially not the Littlest Cancer Patient. After a while, it looks like we have a society of youthful sociopaths running around the city. Oh wait...

Note that the victim is almost always the protagonist; at least fictionland doesn't think bullies are good protagonist material... unless they can grow a stubble, that is. In Teen Drama, the Alpha Bitch and the Jerk Jock represent this trope. One way to defuse the abuse is for the kid to make his aggressors realize what they're feeling. This only works if the mean kids are good but misguided though, if they aren't a beat down is in order.

If the target of abuse could easily rip them apart if it wanted and the kids know it, then the kids are Bullying a Dragon (not to mention Too Dumb to Live). And even if the target of abuse is not superpowered at the time, just wait until the bully-magnet that Used to Be a Sweet Kid undergoes a Start of Darkness, possibly as a result of the cruelty of other kids, and goes on a Roaring Rampage of Revenge, often at a point when the bullies themselves have forgotten the whole thing.

A favorite for films with grown protagonists is to reveal this as part of their Backstory via Flash Backs.

See also Teens Are Monsters, Big Brother Bully, and Humans Are the Real Monsters. Contrast Children Are Innocent. Royal Brat is a particularly disturbing take on this.

Sometimes leads to Would Hurt a Child. But all too often the bullying has catastrophic consequences.

Truth in Television, as if we needed to say it. However, this doesn´t mean that every Real Life kid is a sociopath.

Examples of Kids Are Cruel include:


  • Many 90's kid-aimed commercials glorified this trope, with kids joyfully behaving in ways that even most real-life kids would find repulsive.
    • A good example is the Kellogg's Frosted Mini Wheats commercials of the mid-90's, which not only exemplified Kids Versus Adults but often had cartoonishly sassy children doing things almost no decently raised kid would even want to do in real life, such as squirting (reasonably nice) old ladies with garden hoses.
    • Kids in cereal commercials are especially cruel to mascots, with the most notorious examples being Lucky and the Trix Rabbit, who will never get to keep or have their respective cereals thanks to them.

Anime & Manga

  • Majin Buu of Dragonball Z had the mentality of a child without a conception of right or wrong, so he quite cheerfully obliterated anything that wasn't entertaining. After Mr. Satan befriended him, Buu slowly began to evolve a sense of morality.
    • Taken even further when Buu's pure form is revealed: Kid Buu. This form is hinted to only have as much power as Super Buu, but lacks any of the restraint displayed by his other incarnations. He's a complete psychopath, as demonstrated when he destroyed the planet he was standing on.
  • Elfen Lied. Lucy gets a Backstory like this, where she gets tormented by cruel kids because of her "cute little horns" and her emotionlessness. Their most despicable act was to force her to watch as they beat the little puppy that she had started caring for to death, just to get any kind of reaction from her at all. Lucy snaps and splatters everyone all over the room with her powers.
  • Peach Girl: Momo is bullied by Sae throughout the course of the story, because Sae is jealous of her for getting more attention and hates her, though Sae often lies to people about this, trying to convince people that it is * Momo* who is bullying her. And she succeeds for a while before she finally gets what's coming to her. Also Momo is put down by her classmates and other people for having tan skin and bleached blonde hair, because they believe that she is a major party girl who spends all her time tanning at the beach; they also sometimes insulted her by calling her a slut because Sae tricked them into thinking that Momo stole Toji from her when it was really Sae who was trying to steal Toji from Momo, which, in reality, is entirely wrong, as Momo is actually a really nice girl, it's Sae who's the Manipulative Bitch.
  • Candy's step-siblings Eliza and Neil Reagan in Candy Candy. They are so utterly cruel, that it's unthinkable to even feel a twinge of admiration or sympathy towards them. Worst is the Rich Bitch Eliza, whose motivation for making Candy's life hell is: because she can. If that doesn't convince you enough, wait until you see the episode about Eliza getting temporarily grounded, whereas she will make up a monologue that explains that she really loves violence, especially towards people that can be picked on, like Candy. So she not only did it because she can, she also LOVES and takes joy in doing it.
  • Tetsuo from Akira. In a scene after Tetsuo, in the full throes of his psychic megalomania, kills fellow gang member Yamagata, Kaneda reflects on how everyone in his school had teased Tetsuo and tried to make him cry.
  • Sakura's classmates in Bludgeoning Angel Dokuro-chan are an extreme example of this.
  • Narutaru contains Aki Honda and her Girl Posse, who manage the rather impressive feat of turning schoolyard bullying into a monstrous act when they rape one of the side characters, Hiroko, with a test tube; and as if that's not nasty enough, the original plan was to kick Hiroko in the stomach while the test tube was inside her!. Needless to say, once Hiroko obtains her dragonet, she gets her revenge... in very bloody fashion.
  • Gaara of Naruto. Yes, make the kid who contains a gigantic malevolent sand demon upset. That's definitely going to score points.
    • This could've happened to Naruto as well (since Gaara is Naruto's Evil Counterpart), but he never actually did anything about it because he never knew why the adults were treating him like the plague. Thankfully, none of his classmates knew either.
  • Death Note has Teru Mikami, whose childhood involved having to deal with asshole kids. As a result, when Mikami gets his hands on the titular Artifact of Doom in the second half of the series, he develops the philosophy that past middle school, anyone who commits a cruel act is basically unredeemable and should be, to use his favorite term, "deleted." By the end of the anime, he's become the most psychotic of all the Kiras, with the much-contested title of "Craziest Character in the Series."
  • Bokurano has several examples of this trope as well—the major victim would be Mako Nakarai, who is bullied mercilessly because her mother is a prostitute.
    • Kodama is a protagonist version. He cares little for other life (he says that if something dies it's their destiny, shoots cats regularly, and in the anime boils a crab alive using a firecracker), to the point where he kills dozens of people while driving the mecha. He accidentally kills his father, sending him into a Heroic BSOD, right before he dies. Ushiro also counts, being easy to anger and quite violent toward his younger sister.
  • Flame of Recca is all over this trope. For most (if not all) of the characters with tragic pasts (such as Fuuko, Kaoru, Kurei, and many others), a good part of said past was being tormented by other kids, who take it to extreme heights for seemingly no reason other than the fun of being evil little bastards. One of the tormented kids (Kaoru) was even driven to attempt suicide, and a few others considered it.
  • Kaze no Stigma: Kazuma was born into a prestigious family of fire users yet had no talent in the arts at all, not even the standard immunity to fire that even the weakest branch members had. Consequently, as a child, he was regularly beaten and tortured with fire by the other children, ranging from 5 year olds to teenagers. At least one time, they were seriously going to kill him.
  • Mad Pierrot from Cowboy Bebop has regressed to having a child's mind from sadistic experiments, and as Jet puts it, there's nothing as purely cruel as a child.
  • Toyed with in Ranma ½; when Ryoga Hibiki and Ranma Saotome were kids, they went to the same all-boys Junior High, which had a policy of simply flinging out the stuff from the lunch shop and letting the students fight over it. Ranma would consistently beat Ryoga when they went after the same piece of food, but otherwise got on with him okay enough that he would regularly lead Ryoga to and from his home, to the point Ranma still remembers where Ryoga lives better then Ryoga does. Eventually, Ryoga got sick of Ranma beating him in combat and challenged him to a duel; when he took four days to get there and found Ranma had left, he set off after him to try and get that match. Initially, however, he didn't seem to really be mad at Ranma, more wanting to settle the score. When he wandered into Jusenkyo, however, he fell into the Spring of Drowned Piglet in an incident involving a girl and a panda, and he promptly blamed Ranma for it, becoming much more furious and even declaring he wanted to kill Ranma. Things kind of peaked when he found out Ranma was actually at fault, but it quickly petered out; much as they squabble and bicker, the two watch each other's backs and save each other's lives on a regular basis.
  • Drifting Classroom is a prime example of this. When the school is transported into a Crapsack World and the kids get more and more desperate they start doing horrific stuff such as killing each other with spears and knives for food, burning a fellow student on a cross, and even (EATING A DEAD STUDENT'S REMAINS.)
  • Umineko no Naku Koro ni: This is Rosa's justification for her treatment of Maria (or what she tells people anyway; in Maria's backstory we find out that Rosa hates her a good deal for just existing). Her excuse is basically, "All the children make fun of her! Don't you see?! Beating her will obviously make her stop whining!"
    • Bern and Lambda as well.
    • Not to mention Ange's classmates.
  • Episode 10 of Excel Saga had Menchi get chased by a mob of kids all trying to pelt her with rocks, apparently for no reason other than the fact that she was there. Not to mention that the only one that talks is a little potty-mouth.
  • Rosario + Vampire: Moka Akashiya was teased and bullied because of her vampire origins when she was a kid.
  • While usually not apparent in Higurashi no Naku Koro ni it appears a few times. Such as in the "perfect world".
  • Deadman Wonderland: It must be something that in a world of super-powered sadists some the cruelest characters are Muggle bullies whose victims later became the twisted un-powered (or at least not till recently) playthings/enforcers of the prison. Examples include kitten killing, possible rape, and playing Othello on a kid's back with thumbtacks. And this is before the devastating earthquake that plunged the land into chaos.
    • In terms of just plain Ax Crazy, Little Hibana killed a classmate while in kindergarten; Minatsuki killed her mom for abandoning her during the earthquake and her dad just to see if her brother was gullible enough to think their loving dad would try to rape her (he's not, he just has a huge Big Brother Instinct, which she finds incredibly comforting). Minatsuki's current pastimes are sadism, Blood Sports, and gardening.
  • In Pokémon, Kenny looks this way when we find out the backstory of "Dee Dee", the Embarrassing Nickname he hung on Dawn.
  • Litchi Hikari Club combines this with Ambiguous Innocence to produce nine rather androgynous eighth grade boys who commit Cold-Blooded Torture on a regular basis.
  • in Redrum 327 Hyeri. At mere eight years old, Hyeri locked Gahui up in an abandoned safe in the middle of a forest, where Gahui ended up being trapped for four days while it rained, nearly drowning as a result.
  • The children of Ohara were like this to Nico Robin in her tragic backstory in One Piece.
  • Wrath from the first Fullmetal Alchemist anime is an extreme embodiment of this; his childish, emotionally underdeveloped nature makes him a vicious tool of destruction, as seen when he sadistically kills Lust.
  • Marie's classmates in Higanbana no Saku Yoru ni call her a youkai to her face, boys flip her skirt up, and she's usually forced to do all the cleaning herself. One scene has a girl stab Marie's hand with a pencil for mumbling "Oh, really?" during a group discussion, saying "Youkai shouldn't talk."
  • The kids of Soil New Town aren't as perfect as they appear. "She was our friend" is actually "we talked occasionally but she was a weird outsider and then she fell into a narcoleptic sleep so we left her in the middle of the road to be almost raped" while another group of boys ID their mysterious leader from the burn where they set his hair on fire. Then again the boys have an excuse, considering they're all current victims of their pedophile rapist dentist (their real leader, a high schooler, is also a victim, as are the slightly older rapists who raped his friend), although they don't know the connection, they just want to destroy this lame world .
  • Hansel and Gretel. They kill everyone in a bar (even though they were just targeting two people), tortured a man to death, and being insane sociopaths in general. They probably weren't always like this though.

Comic Books

  • The X-Men in every incarnation displays this trope. X-Men being what they are, this is liable to fall under Bullying a Dragon.
  • This plays into a notable event in Roschach's past in Watchmen. Rorschach was the son of a prostitute who often beat him. One day, when he was ten years old and sent out to get some milk, two fifteen-year-old boys accosted him and kept up the taunt of "whoreson" and demanded to be hooked up with Rorschach's mother. Rorschach, at age ten, partially blinded one boy with the boy's own cigarette, and swarmed the other one. Rorschach was taken into custody, and then put in state school when his home life was discovered.
  • In the Calvin and Hobbes Tenth Anniversary Collection, Watterson muses a bit on the character of Moe, who was written as a bully from a child's perspective; which is to say that being a jerk is Moe's only purpose.
    • Moe is, in fact, the only recurring character in the entire strip not intended to be treated with any sympathy whatsoever.
  • The way Charlie Brown is treated in Peanuts, most of the kids could count for this (except Linus and Marcie most of the time)
  • The Plutonian, from Irredeemable, was forced to put up with bullying, as a child, because any retaliation could have killed the kids bullying him. After his Heel Face Turn, he uses that to justify his willingness to murder children.


  • Let the Right One In - The three bullies can get pretty mean. Oskar, his victim, is clearly getting a little creepy. Then comes the big brother whose cruelty scares even the bullies, and of course, finally Eli.
  • Carrie - A textbook example not just of Kids are Cruel, but of just what happens when you bully the character with telekinetic powers.
  • Daredevil movie - Even after Matt is blinded, the kids still pick on him. Although to be fair, before Matt agrees to fight them, they turn away, presumably to leave. They may have physically hurt him when he could see, but it seems like they weren't about to cross that line anymore.
  • The Butterfly Effect - Look at the nerd! He has no arms and no legs! Ha ha ha!
    • It's played with, given how the bully can be a better or worse person depending on how the events are dealt with.
  • Hellboy movie - Look at the freak, let's throw rocks at her! She doesn't talk, she's a freaky Eerie Pale-Skinned Brunette, weird fires keep starting arou-- (Earthshattering Kaboom!)
  • Unbreakable. "They called me Mister Glass."
  • This example was inspired by an old, long-forgotten Littlest Cancer Patient movie where the main character was bullied when they found out he had cancer. (Which can happen in real life.)
  • The Monster Squad. Even the kids we like are vicious little creeps at times.
  • Subverted and played straight in The Orphanage. Let's be mean to the deformed kid! Damn it, now we're ghosts. Let's try to help this lady find her missing son! Damn it, now they're both ghosts.
  • The protagonists in Drillbit Taylor are constantly menaced by two bullies, one of whom is completely psychopathic. Not only do they perform the normal bully tactics, but at one point the bullies chase the protagonists with a car, apparently in an attempt to murder them for trying to report their behavior. What makes this even worse is that most of this is done in plain sight of the rest of the kids in school and they do absolutely nothing about it, at least until the protagnists finally grow some backbone and kick some bully ass.
  • The flashbacks in Freddy's Dead: The Final Nightmare showed that it was, among other things, being relentlessly bullied by other children that drove Freddy Krueger to become a killer. Pretty horribly, the kids were shown teasing him about how he was conceived when his mother was raped by mental patients ("Son of a hundred maniacs! Son of a hundred maniacs!")
    • Also revealed to be part of the inspiration for Jason Voorhees' rampages in Freddy vs. Jason. You'd think Freddy would have a little sympathy. Oh, wait, that's right, it's Freddy fucking Krueger.
  • In the 2009 Star Trek, we discover that even Vulcan kids display this tendency towards Half-Human Hybrid Spock. Being Vulcans, they're quite stoic and formal about it.
    • Spock: "Have you prepared more insults for me today?" - Vulcan boy: "Affirmative."
    • This was actually established the TOS episode "Journey to Babel".
  • The 1993 movie The Good Son. Although, Macaulay Culkin's character is more than just cruel...
  • Used on a couple of occasions in Schindler's List, such as the little girl screaming "Goodbye, Jews!" as they're being rounded up, and the boy who grins and makes a throat-slitting gesture at the cattle cars heading towards the extermination camp.
  • The entire Karate Kid series including the fourth one is filled with bullies that are mean to the point of over top idiocy; sometimes it's influenced by an adult who enforces this behavior. In the remake not only are they cruel but also racist.
  • In Kung Fu Hustle, in a flashback to his childhood, the Anti-Hero protagonist attempted to protect a mute girl from a group of bullies who were ganging up on her. They then proceed to turn around and beat him up instead, and afterwards, they even pee on him. This is when the protagonist says he decided to turn to a life of crime.
  • Real Genius features a group of college students selected for early advancement due to their intelligence. Naturally, they tend to come from backgrounds where they were bullied for this. Mitch, the main protagonist, describes to his roommate Chris how he was once stuffed into a mailbox by the Jerk Jocks at his old school.
  • From Toy Story, we have Sid, Andy's next door neighbor, who decapitates his sister's dolls and crudely fixes them onto anything he finds. Oh yeah, he enjoys burning holes into toys and strapping them to rockets. Thankfully averted with Andy, who cares very much for his toys, even when he's a teenager and had outgrown, as shown in the third film.
    • Played straight again in the third film with the daycare children, though excused in that they're too young to understand that some toys aren't designed for rough play.
  • The protagonist's little sister in Remember Me is frequently a victim of bullying, but she says she can handle it...until towards the end of the film, where one of the bullies invites her to a, chaperoned by her mother, birthday party. The sister is nervous to go, but assumes the girls just want to be friends now...and then later we see her tearfully begging her father over the phone to pick her up, her pigtails chopped off. Apparently the girls ganged up on her out of sight of the parents, held her down and cut her hair off, and then told the parents she did it to herself—and, as her father reluctantly admits, it was off school grounds, so nothing can be done about it. The girls still mock her for her attempt at a decent hairdo the next week (she was too traumatized to leave her room) at school, in front of the teacher. Luckily, even if the teacher did nothing, the girl's older brother and father certainly did. In fact, when said brother was sent to jail for doing something about it, the father bailed him out and then told him that he threatened all the girls' fathers if they don't transfer them to other schools straight away.
  • Henry Bowers from IT. Not only is he cruel, he's also a psychopath, a racist, a sexist, and an all-around asshole. While he was bad enough as a kid, he eventually grows up into an even worse adult who tries to murder the protagonists on multiple occasions before finally getting his comeuppance.
  • Those kids from Film/50FirstDates would laugh at a man having a fantasy dream.
  • The Shorties from Shark Tale.
  • Eric has shades of this in Mystery Team.
  • The main plot of the WWE production That's What I Am, where a kid gets paired with a intelligent student who gets made fun of due to his tall, wiry frame, red hair and big ears. The kid gets to learn his qualities and experiences the prejudice he faces.
  • At the end of Tomboy, the protagonists friends force her to take off her shorts, and force a female friend to check her pants, so that they can see if she's really a girl. There have been cases of kids actually doing this to transgendered or gender-variant kids too.
  • Parodied in Step Brothers, where elementary schoolchildren attack Dale and Brennan and force them to eat dog poop. Dale and Brennan are at least 40 years old.
  • The movie Chrissa Stands Strong, where three girls constantly bully Chrissa and her friend Gwen. They threw away Chrissa's clothes, gave Gwen a deliberately bad haircut, and even caused Chrissa's brother to become seriously injured.


  • Oh God, Stephen King, what sadistic schoolkids inspired you to make such cruel children in your novels?
    • Possibly the worst example is in "It", where the main bully is sadistic, homosexual, and has sexually harassed and threatened his classmates. He does get killed later by the eponymous creepy clown though.
  • "Please Stop Laughing at Me" by Jodee Blanco is a slightly fictionalized memoir of her childhood, which was full of utter sadists who threw her in the toilet, pelted her with rocks, and made her life a living hell. And that was just before High School.
  • A Series of Unfortunate Events: Carmelita Spats and her groups of friends in the book "Austere Academy" played this trope to the hilt around the Quagmires and the Baudelaires especially. Unfortunately for the Baudelaires Carmelita returns later on in the series to torment them further.
  • A Little Princess: After Sara loses her money, Rich Bitch Lavinia wastes no time in treating her like she's less than trash.
  • The Discworld book Hogfather was largely built on this trope.
  • This happens a fair old bit in Harry Potter, as well.
    • Also, James Potter was a Jerk Jock bully, growing out of it only when he was out of his teens.
      • Snape's childhood is the epitome of this trope, since only Harry's mother seemed to treat him like a human, while Harry at least is a hero for his House (well, most of the time).
    • But played straight with Dudley Dursley, at least at the beginning of the series.
    • Voldemort was this trope incarnate when he was a kid. He tormented the other orphans by forcing a bunny to hang itself and scaring two orphans by taking them to the cave that he later leaves a Horcrux in.
    • The Slytherins that Harry learns with can be considered this. They enjoy bullying anyone whom they think aren't worthy, including all the Weasleys, Harry, every Muggle-born, Neville, and all the Gryffindors. No wonder Harry finds them to be evil.
  • Stephen King's Carrie was picked on since childhood, but it wasn't until she reached her teenage years that everything came to a head and she snapped and went on a rampage. No one except her crazy religious fanatic mother (who was herself abusive to her) knew about her telekinetic powers until it was too late.
  • Edmund Pevensie from Chronicles of Narnia. He constantly bullies his younger sister, Lucy, whenever he gets the chance and, in the movie version of The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, his malevolent smiles clearly show that he enjoys doing it.
    • Not to mention that he even goes after her in the dark, just to scare her... even though some fans poked at the subtext.
    • When Lucy hopes he will back her up and tell their older siblings that he has been in Narnia, too, Edmund purposely lies, making her cry.
    • The most unambiguous Narnia example is probably the school bullies in The Silver Chair, who have been tormenting Jill in unspecified ways at the beginning of the book, and whose approach is what drives Eustace and Jill to blunder in a blind panic of terror into Narnia. There's a whole author aside about how horrible the kids are at their school, which is called Experiment House, and how the adults do nothing to control them. It's pretty satisfying when in the end Jill and Eustace beat the crap out of all the bullies, with Aslan's blessing.
  • This is a big part of the message of Lord of the Flies. Of course, all Humans Are Bastards.
  • In Mercedes Lackey's Heralds of Valdemar novel, Brightly Burning, a troop of school bullies torment a boy who has the ability to start fires with his mind. Needless to say, it ends badly for them (and leaves the Firestarter wracked with guilt for some time afterward.) Not an example of Bullying a Dragon, since no one knew he had the ability until it manifested when they pushed him over the edge.
    • Partially justified in Arrows of the Queen where Talia Sensdaughter was involved. Yes a lot of the highborn kids outside of the Heraldic Trainees were displeased by some puny farmgirl from the borderlands receiving some of the best education in The Kingdom at the Collegium, and some of that could have been due to her being groomed to be the second most powerful person in Valdemar; but there was also an actual conspiracy reaching the highest levels of court that wanted the incoming Monarch's Own Herald driven off, driven mad, or just plain dead.
  • In Carlo Collodi's The Adventures of Pinocchio, Pinocchio is a little hellion who runs around getting into all sorts of trouble before he learns how to behave himself and Become a Real Boy. Contrast with his depiction as a well-meaning but naive and easily-led Cheerful Child in Walt Disney's version...
  • A small part of The Subtle Knife discusses this: The protagonist's actions inadvertently cause the older brother of two kids from Cittágazze to be caught by the Specters. A few moments later, a big group of kids, many of them armed try to kill them. After they are rescued, Lyra is astonished at how kids are capable of doing such things. Will replies he already knew, due to having to deal with kid's reactions to his mentally ill mother.
    • Lyra herself, though, had plenty of expose to kids being cruel before the start of the book, not as a victim, but as a leader. The beginning of The Golden Compass details some of the things children do in Oxford. It gave a simplified version of the systems of often very short alliances, as well as rivalries, and explained that kids from different colleges would attack each other, or gang up on kids from the town or the bricklayers' children. They have fist fights and throw stuff at each other, up to and including bricks, shove the bricklayers' kids viciously in the mud (that description was rather detailed), and tried to sink the a Gyptian boat. Lyra and the rest of the kids, of course, viewed it as a game, and the violence was mutual. It still sounded very vicious and far from innocent.
  • Played with in Ender's Game. Ender is picked on at his first school by the other kids for being so smart, and so small, and later for similar reasons at the Battle School, in a straight use of the trope. He shrugs it off. However, when his personal safety is threatened, he turns the tables on the bullies and Ends the threat. Permanently, by killing the bullies.
  • Ben Elton's Past Mortem.
  • All Summer In A Day, the short story by Ray Bradbury involves a kid being locked in a janitorial closet on an extremely rare sunny day on another planet simply because she originally came from earth and claimed to have seen things like the sun and flowers before.
  • Eloise McGraw's The Moorchild. The other children pick on Saaski because she's different, and their teasing often turns violent and she ends up injured. When a prank could have turned deadly (an older, stronger boy tries to push her in a deep pond), nobody helps her. The children's parents deliberately look the other way, and when they stop, things get even worse for Saaski.
  • Robert Arryn and especially Joffrey Baratheon in A Song of Ice and Fire.
  • Blubber by Judy Blume. Parents have been known to complain that no one gets punished at the end.
  • This is the driving theme of Margaret Atwood's novel Cat's Eye: the protagonist suffered severe and permanent psychological damage, including tendencies to self-harm, from being cruelly bullied as a child, and her later career as a painter reflects the pain from this period of her life. She's also depicted as terrified that her daughters will suffer similar abuse, or torment others, at that age. Atwood depicts a similar history a little more lightheartedly in Lady Oracle, where a casual social encounter as an adult with a woman who used to bully her when they were both children (and now doesn't remember it at all) drives the protagonist, Joan, to retreat to a restroom and cry.

Little girls are small and cute only to adults. To one another they are not cute. They are life-sized.

  • White Fang. But with puppies, and not human children. They make the canine protagonist the best fighter, and eventually the ringleader gets a dose of his own medicine.
  • Pick a V. C. Andrews novel. Any V. C. Andrews novel. (Though yes, most of the books actually have Teens Are Monsters, a fair number of them have much younger bullies as well...special mention goes to young, frail Carrie's classmates, whose merciless bullying (even locking her out on the roof of the school once) played a part in her being Driven to Suicide.)
  • In Under the Dome, Julia tells a story from her childhood about how a gang of girls beat her up and stole her pants. Near the end of the novel, it's revealed that the Dome is the product of Eldritch Abomination "children" torturing the town in the same manner and attitude that kids torture insects.
  • Any of Leonard's childhood classmates in The Pale King.
  • Protagonists Emmeline and Adeline in The Thirteenth Tale have zero empathy for other people and casually destroy things and endanger infants.
  • In Inheritance, the final book in The Inheritance Cycle, Galbatorix has a couple of children kidnapped, and states to the heroes that he's never believed that children are innocent, just that they usually lack the means to act on their cruel urges. He then tells them that if they believe that children are innocent and consider themselves virtuous, that he'll kill the children if they choose to act against him.
  • Subverted in the children's book Angel Child, Dragon Child. Ut's family moves from Vietnam to America, and on her first day of school, she and her sisters are taunted by the other children. Finally, Ut snaps and gets into a fight with a boy named Raymond, and the principal makes them sit down and talk. Eventually, Raymond understands Ut's problem—that her mother wasn't able to come to America with them—and he and the other children organize a fair to raise the money needed to bring Ut's mother to her family's new home.

Live-Action TV

  • On Lincoln Heights, when Lizzie gets a basketball scholarship to an upper class boarding school the students initially appear to be welcoming, but it later turns out that they are racist, manipulative elitists who couldn't care less about her as a person and only care about her basketball skills. Basically, they expect her to act like "a girl from the hood." And the adults aren't much better.
  • The main character of Pushing Daisies was picked on at Boarding School, because of his introversion and his tendency not to retaliate. And when he did retaliate, the bullies waited until he was alone and then beat him up.
  • A major factor in Warren Mears growing up to be a stone cold, woman hating, megalomaniacal PSYCHOPATH.
  • Simon on FlashForward was bullied as a child growing up in Canada because of his accent and for being a Teen Genius. Until one day, when he filled his lunchbox with rocks and beat the crap out of the bullies with it.
  • Midsomer Murders likes this one; at least three episodes have children as murderers.
  • The Law and Order episode "Killerz" involves a ten year old girl who casually murders a six year old boy for the fun of it, and receives a slap on the wrist for it. During her psychological evaluation, she casually admits to poisoning the neighbors pets, of enjoying having killed someone, and of having plans to kill again.

Dr. Emile Skoda: "She's a Serial Killer. We just caught her early."

    • What's equally sad is the likelihood that the girl is a sociopath because of abuse she herself suffered—her father's in jail and she has tolerate her promiscuous mother bringing numerous lovers home and not even bothering to close her bedroom door when she has sex with them—it is implied that any number of these men has made advances to her as well. Is it any wonder that she's completely screwed up with a hatred of all things male?
  • Law and Order SVU had a recent example of a very young-looking thirteen-year-old date-rapist who was pushing his victim to get an abortion; his secret lovechild half-brother who had a crush on the victim killed him when it seemed (and I could be remembering wrong) like he was going to take matters into his own hands. There's also the two fourteen-year-old girls who almost succeed in pinning the murder of an eight-year-old on a retarded neighbor -- actually one girl was "normal" and the other was the psycho/sociopath who tortured the kid because it was funny and strangled him because he was gonna tell.
  • Kyoryu Sentai Zyuranger: Bandora's son Kai was chased off a cliff to his death by a dinosaur...because the dinosaur caught him slashing its eggs open, dumping the insides out, and then throwing the shells in a river. Unfortunately, Bandora didn't take her son's death well, and made a Deal with the Devil for power to exact revenge upon all of dinosaur kind.


  • Check out Girlfriend by Avril Lavigne for an example where the bully is the protagonist.
  • Gym Class Heroes' third album is called As Cruel as School Children.
  • The Who's Tommy features cousin Kevin.
  • The whole point of John Peel favorites Furious Pig's "I Don't Like Your Face."
  • The video for Mass Destruction by Faithless has kids engaging in fist fights.
  • While Mark Wills' Don't Laugh At Me is about cruelty in different settings, the first verse covers examples of kid/teen cruelty very nicely.
  • All BUT Taylor Swift's character in the video for "Mean" are bullied by other kids.


Nebulous: At school... they called me "Nobulous"
Rory: Ha ha ha ha... er... Ahem hem, er, kids can be so cruel.

  • Adventures in Odyssey: Liz Horton was a rather nice girl, but you wouldn't know this from her first appearances. In two episodes, the first she repeatedly teases a girl about how ugly her clothes are, ((even informing her that she was talking about her)), and in the other episode she is so mean at times, you just want to reach through the speakers and punch the ever living tar out of her.

Tabletop Games

  • Kid World, from the somewhat obscure company of Vajra Enterprises, is a post-apocalyptic Lord of the Flies on a global scale after a plague kills ninety percent of humanity and leaves all the adults blind. Earth is a giant shithole.

Video Games

Tommy Vercetti: Vance? Your name's Lance Vance?
Lance Vance: Hey, I got enough of that at school.
Tommy Vercetti: Lance Vance. Poor bastard.

  • Inazuma Eleven 3: Sekai e no Chousen: Bomber starts by showing The Rival Rococo being bullied by bigger, stronger kids in his childhood.
  • Iris, from Rosenkreuzstilette. She disguises herself as an innocent girl to hide that from everybody.
  • In Katawa Shoujo, Hanako, whose body was severely scarred in a house fire that killed both her parents, was bullied by her classmates for her appearance when she returned to school, including several of her former friends.
  • Sundowner from Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance believes this to be true about all children, and even tells Raiden before his boss fight that "I'm VERY in touch with my inner child!"
  • This could technically go for all the animatronics in the Five Nights at Freddy's games as they are possessed by the vengeful spirits of murdered children as far as adults are concerned, but it's especially apparent in Balloon Boy from the second game: Unlike the other animatronics who are based off of animals (And one clown puppet), he looks like a little human boy and will wander around the pizzeria, saying things such as "Hi!" "Hello!". He comes off pleasant at first, but if you let him get into your office, he will disable your lights, which will particularly leave you a sitting duck for Foxy, who can only be warded off by your flashlight and doesn't fall for the Freddy mask trick. To make things worse, the little bastard laughs his ass off whenever you try to flash your lights.

Web Comics

  • Tedd of El Goonish Shive has been made fun of since he was small for being androgynous; his AU counterpart went nuts from the strain. Justin has been teased since early high school for being gay. Susan has always been considered a weird feminist, but she got really reamed for a few days after showing up at school in the boys' uniform.
  • In Gunnerkrigg Court, it seems that prior to Antimony's arrival, the entire Queslett North class made a point of ostracizing Kat Donlan, simply because she got good grades and had teachers for parents.
    • Part of this newfound respect for Kat may be simple fear of Annie. Its shown that despite the class having respect for her, they're kind of freaked out by her Emotionless Girl status at the same time. Ironically, this makes Kat the sociable one and Annie the quiet one, as the class tend to ask Kat to pass messages along to Annie. Kat, naturally, calls them on this.
  • In Girl Genius, the children aboard Castle Wulfenbach are noted by Tarvek in this comic as tormenting and picking on each other all the time. Lineage, as he comments, was a favored excuse, with them taking any chance to "one up" each other and thusly claim a reason to bully their "lessers" around.
    • This might be Unreliable Narrator, as Tarvek is not unbiased on the subject. Though they're old enough to mostly not be "kids" any more, only one of the Castle students (Princess Zulenna) goes out of her way to be cruel to Agatha when she's living with them, despite everyone at the time thinking Agatha is a commoner nobody.
  • In What Birds Know, this trope forms a major part of the backstories of the three girls during flashbacks.

Web Original

  • In the Lonelygirl15 episode "Poor Pluto", it is revealed that Bree was bullied by the other kids at school because she liked to ask questions about stars. However, in the following episode, "I Want to Take Bree to a Party", Daniel claims that it was just teasing and that Bree takes things really seriously they were a bunch of mindless jerks who didn't give a crap about her feelings. Seriously, spreading rumors about her having an affair with her teacher?
  • Adam from Arby 'n' the Chief is an extreme example.

Western Animation

  • Hercules by Disney - Oh, my god, the freak! He used his super-strength to destroy the entire city! Let's be openly hostile towards him!
  • Nelson and his fellow bullies on The Simpsons certainly qualify here. In the hockey episode, where Bart tries to show up Lisa in school because she's playing well on the ice, he gets every single answer he volunteers wrong. Cut to him being beaten up by Nelson. "Here's for wastin' teacher's valuable time!". In a later episode, Nelson beat Bart up once for "Stealing credit from someone else", along with another bully concerned with church issues because "Not only am I a teenager, but the father of a teenager." Nelson also beat Bart up for "Besmirching a lady's good name". In summary: Nelson will use any excuse to hit someone.
    • In fact many of the children at Springfield Elementary give Bart and Lisa a hard time when they face a dilemma of embarrassment, most notably Janey Powell and Sherri & Terri. It's even one of the three main "rules" of the Code of the Schoolyard. This trope however is especially driven Up to Eleven in "Lisa Goes Gaga".
  • An American Tail had a group of mean, cynical orphans near the end who briefly convince Fievel to give up looking for his family.
  • Ed, Edd 'n' Eddy: Ed, Edd and Eddy in particular are known for being disliked and harassed by just about every character on the show, except the Kankers, though they tend to sexually harass the Eds. This is because Ed is a comic book geek, Edd is a nerd and Eddy scams people out of their money. Hell the Ed's sometimes attack each other when no one else is bothering them. Jonny, Jimmy and the Kanker sisters aren't known for being liked that much either (though the Kanker sisters actually fight back whenever someone messes with them).
    • Can you blame the kids for not particularly liking Johnny? There's an entire episode devoted to him being a pest (and the Eds capitalizing on that).
    • And on that note, although Edd doesn't deserve the bullying he gets, Eddy usually deserves at least some of it. Ed somwtimes does if he decides to ignore Double D and go along with whatever Eddy does, as not only does he try to scam everyone, but he's a self centered jerkass, which makes Kevin seem somewhat sympathetic by comparison.
    • I don't think it's as black-and-white as that. With Kevin, he does get provoked by the Eds sometimes, but other times he's a straight-up Jerkass to them, and he and Eddy are actually somewhat arch-rivals in the show. Consider the episode "Your Ed Here", where Kevin finds Eddy's wallet and learns that his middle name is Skipper. He makes Eddy do embarassing stuff so he wouln't reveal Eddy's middle name to everyone. After making him do things like dress up like Jimmy, kiss Edd in front of Nazz, and act like a performing seal in front of everyone, Kevin STILL tells everyone Eddy's middle name. Who is the more sympathetic one mostly depends on the writer. Eddy is a self-centered con-artist, but I wouldn't go so far as to say he's THAT bad.
    • Really, it's not focused on the Eds. The kids are just violent in general. Pretty much everyone, from the local Brainless Beauty to the girly boy, has beaten up/caused some serious harm to another kid.
  • Futurama: As a child, Leela was mocked by the other kids for only having one eye. Even the blind kid hated her ("At least I have two of them!"). It seems their favorite pastime was pointing at her and chanting "One eye! One eye!" Whatever torment they dished out on her, however, was probably preferable to what they would've done if they knew she was a sewer mutant and not an alien.
    • She responds to taunts with violence (having broken the blind kid's nose several times), a trait that has carried over into adulthood, where her response to many situations is to kick/punch someone. It was even a key focus of the third movie.
  • Just about every kid in Invader Zim except for the main characters are needlessly cruel, but also Too Dumb to Live.
    • Except for the main characters? Zim is trying to take over and/or destroy Earth as well tortures and experiments on his classmates, and Dib's not the nicest guy either.
      • Actually, Dib is the nicest guy on this show. Although he's arrogant and at times selfish, at the end of the day, his intentions are to protect Earth from an Irken invasion and he has more than a few moments where he shows protectiveness of Gaz, not that she needs it.
  • Danny Phantom: Danny Fenton was more of a victim of bullying before he got his ghost powers and was able to teach Jerk Jock Dash a lesson. Still, the other kids, namely Dash and his group of friends, never do stop bothering him.
    • Namely because Dash and his friends never found out about Danny's powers...well, they did twice—one time he acted nicer, and the Reset Button was pressed, the second time was in the final episode, so we don't know for sure if the bullying stopped.
  • Same goes for Timmy in Fairly Oddparents.
    • To the point where it crosses over from Kids Are Cruel to making Timmy the universe's Butt Monkey. The bully is more a force of nature than anything and barely has any characterization.
  • Most of the kids in Hey Arnold! depending on the episode.
  • The kids in the academy in Galaluna in the Flashback Episode of Sym-Bionic Titan. Especially Baron. Mocked Lance for not having a father, after said father died no less, and always got him into trouble, even endangering his life in the process. Constantly got let off the hook by comparison. If he ever got hit by a rocket, it wouldn't be too soon.
  • In Blinky Bill, Marcia Mouse can sometimes be downright mean to Shifty Dingo.
  • Reggie Bullnerd fills this trope.
  • Heloise and Molotov's Kids from Jimmy Two-Shoes.
  • Adam Lyon from My Gym Partner's a Monkey.
  • Blod and Bleeta from Tak and the Power of Juju.
  • The CatDog episode "Back To School".
  • The Lemonade Stand Gang in Dan Vs.. They get theirs in the end though, just like every other target of Dan's vengeance.
    • Though they get sent to military school, instead of reform school like Elise suggested, so they might come back worse than before.
  • Family Guy has one episode where a pre-teen beats up Chris just to prove that he is Mr. Herbert's paperboy now and Chris can't do anything about it. The boy is joined in by his friends as they all pick on Chris and laugh at him as Chris gets a bloody nose from the fight. Even though the bully is forced to apologize, he reveals to Peter that bullying makes you feel like you have power and that the more you bully people, the better it feels. This causes Peter to become a bully to his neighbors until he realizes he is becoming the same bully that picked on him when he was in school.
  • My Little Pony Friendship Is Magic doesn't shy away from this. Diamond Tiara and Silver Spoon from "Call of the Cutie" tease Apple Bloom mercilessly for being the last filly in her class to earn her "cutie mark", and in "Cutie Mark Chronicles" and "Hurricane Fluttershy" it's show Fluttershy was mocked for being a weak flyer when she was a filly.

Real Life

  • Reena Virk was brutally murdered by a mob of her peers led by one Kelly Ellard, who was not only heard afterwards bragging about "finishing her off," but rumored to have conducted tours of the murder scene.
  • The most extreme case is serial killer Mary Flora Bell, who committed her first murder at age 10, and her similar-aged accomplice, Norma Bell.
  • Bullying is a near universal childhood experience and is present in virtually every school in every country.
    • And it has horrible long term consequences, as many studies have shown.
  • Cyber Bullying. Take face-to-face bullying, apply the GIFT, and the results can literally be deadly. Not that normal bullying can't be, as the case of Phoebe Prince showed.
  • The Salem Witch Trials, started because two girls got bored.
  • Look up "James Bulger", then have fun trying to look at kids the same way ever again.
  • Phoebe Prince, that poor Irish girl in Massachusetts that was bullied so much she took her own life. And the adults who could have stopped it didn't.
  • Bullycide happens more often than you might think... so often, in fact, that there's a special term for it.
  • Such a thing can affect the course of history, apparently. As the story goes, Fidel Castro was often called "dirtball" in school, apparently because he smelled bad. This led to him confiscating the school buildings when he rose to power.
  • The book "Please Stop Laughing At Me" by Jodee Blanco is a heartbreaking account of her childhood, in which she was bullied to an extent that most people can scarcely imagine.
  • Noélanie Sené had been regularly bashed and strangled at school. She actually wrote a letter to the police, saying (among others) "He's going to kill me" and "I hope you're going to protect me." The police didn't react and shortly afterwards, the bullying led to an epilepsy attack that was fatal. The poor little girl was only eight and her bully was hardly older.