Shaming the Mob
I said, 'Hey,' Mr. Cunningham. How's your entailment getting along? Don't you remember me, Mr. Cunningham? I'm Jean Louise Finch. You brought us some hickory nuts one early morning, remember? We had a talk. I went and got my daddy to come out and thank you. I go to school with your boy. I go to school with Walter; he's a nice boy. Tell him 'hey' for me, won't you? You know something, Mr. Cunningham, entailments are bad. Entailments... Atticus, I was just saying to Mr. Cunningham that entailments were bad but not to worry. Takes a long time sometimes... What's the matter? I sure meant no harm, Mr. Cunningham.
—Scout, To Kill a Mockingbird
Skinner: What have we become?
—The Simpsons, Rosebud
The mob is out in force, toting Torches and Pitchforks and demanding blood. All that stands between them and their target is our hero. The hero gives a speech, and the mob is ashamed. Dejected, they turn and leave.
This sometimes works on a Powder Keg Crowd as well, but only if done before the violence breaks out. Once the riot starts, nobody's listening.
Occasionally subverted by having the mob stop in their tracks, hear out the speech... and then keep right on with what they were doing. When it works, almost guaranteed to be an instance of Verbal Judo. Compare Talking the Monster to Death. Sometimes rather than the hero giving the speech, it's a Character Witness or Zombie Advocate. If the speech is only meant to delay the mob rioting until The Cavalry arrive, the character is Holding the Floor. If a character points out the extreme danger of what they are doing, or if they demand that someone else do it, and the character shoves it back on them, and they stop, it's Who Will Bell the Cat?.
- The Big O: Dan Dastun shames the military police with a speech about them following Alex Rosewater’s deranged leadership and then performs the Insignia Rip Off Ritual. Later, the rest of the military police follows his example and attacks Alex Rosewater. , , , 
- In Porco Rosso, a gang of air pirates ambush Porco and threaten to trash his plane in an effort to get even with him, and are stopped only by Fio appealing to their sense of honor.
- From One Piece, the people of the Ryuugu wanted to kill a World Noble who was stranded in the island as retribution for their treatment as slaves. Queen Otohime stops them with one sentence.
Otohime: " The children are watching."
- Kotetsu from Tiger and Bunny tries to call out Sternbild's government for twiddling their fingers while the terrorist group Ouroboros is launching a city-wide attack. As it turns out, he's not very good at this impromptu monologue thing.
Kotetsu: You people are despicable! The entire city is at stake, and all you care about is protecting your own self...uh, your own...
- This is how Satou brings the Club of Heracles's plan crashing down around his ears in Ben-To.
- In issue 210 of The Uncanny X-Men, Kitty Pryde, Colossus (in human form) and Magik find a mob about to beat a depowered Nightcrawler. Judging that using their powers would only make things worse, Kitty proceeds to shame the crowd, one at a time, until they leave. ("He scared my kids!" "YOU scare ME! Should I beat you senseless?")
- In Y: The Last Man, since all the men have died the US Government has become dominated by Democrats, who elect women more frequently. A mob of shotgun-toting Republican Wives try to storm the White House to demand their husbands' political offices, but are talked down by the President (Who is, herself, Republican).
- Attempted in Courtney Crumrin and the Fire Thief's Tale, when a mob of townsfolk corner and plan to kill a group of Gypsies who they (correctly) believe to be werewolves. Knowing that the Gypsies aren't dangerous, a woman from the town tries to shame them out of it, asking them how they'd feel if they shot a child and found out the Gypsies were ordinary people after all. It doesn't quite work, though no Gypsies die.
- Sonic and Sally attempt this with an audience swayed by Mina Mongoose's "Anti-NICOLE" protest songs in Sonic #221, by explaining who was really in control of her actions, what she was doing when she was a Fake Defector, and pointing out that she was the one who saved most of their butts during the invasion. It doesn't stick.
- Partially being influenced by this very wiki, Shinji and Warhammer 40 K has resident Badass Preacher Makoto breaking up a riot with words while revving a chainsword to get their attention. One minute, the rioters are willing to kill each other; the next, they are kneeling and lamenting that they are the world's biggest assholes.
- At the climax of the film Young Frankenstein, the monster, made newly articulate, manages to do this.
- Moderately subverted twice before; the first time, a respected elder tells a group of people that they should not chase Dr Frankenstein away, until they are sure he is creating a monster. The second time, he speaks to the mob, pitchforks and all, and explains that "A riot is an ungly thing... undt, I tink, that it is chust about time ve had vun."
- Parodied in The Animal. When the mob has the main character cornered, his black friend suddenly confesses to being behind it all. The mob stops and disperses, not wanting to be known for lynching a black man.
- Also subverted earlier, when one of the mob members who keeps asking questions finally asks what the viewers are thinking:
Mob Member: I was just wondering...is this really the right thing? Are we sure this man did anything wrong? And even if he did, is it really right for us to kill him over it?
- Subverted in M, when the peculiarly sympathetic childkiller protagonist Hans Beckert gives an extremely moving speech about how everything he does is the product of mental illness, not genuine malice. He also notes that while he is insane and can't control his abhorrent actions, the criminals who are attempting to lynch him are criminals entirely by choice. The angry mob don't listen, but he manages to buy himself enough time for the cops to arrive and arrest everyone present.
- Subverted in the 2008 Horton Hears a Who! where Horton tries a rousing speech to explain to the mob why he is so devoted to protecting a speck on a clover which contains a microscopic community on it. At the end, even the Sour Kangaroo notes that the speech is moving, but immediately orders Horton bound and caged anyway.
- Subverted in the theatrical cut of A Knight's Tale when Chaucer, who has previously demonstrated his ability to work a crowd, tries to shame the mob that's gathered around William, who is in the stocks for impersonating a knight. He's pelted with vegetables before he can even get started.
- However, in the extended cut of the film, Chaucer succeeds in Shaming the Mob into chastened silence before Prince Edward steps in. This scene was cut to beef up Prince Edward's role.
- In It's a Wonderful Life, there is a run on the Building & Loan and a mob is demanding all their money. George Bailey shows up and explains that the money is not there because it's been loaned to their friends to build homes. He calms them down and convinces them to take out just enough to get by, thereby saving the Building & Loan.
- Done well in the 1953 biographical film Martin Luther and especially well in its excellent 2003 remake, Luther. Martin is horrified both that his best friends are being burned at stake for heresy—an unfortunate touch of Truth in Television—and that his supposed followers and converts to a way of peaceful reform have instead decided to take up arms against Catholicism, looting and pillaging churches and Spalatin, even killing a priest. Martin confronts them at the steps, fiery-eyed.
- Subverted in The Muppet Movie, where Kermit gives a speech to Hopper about all he's learned during the film about the importance of friends and family. Hopper simply scratches his head and then orders his men to kill Kermit.
- Artie delivers such a speech in Shrek the Third. The speech turns inspirational, with a hilarious ending:
Artie: If there's something you want to do, or someone you really want to be, then the only one standing in your way... is you.
- Clerks. "Bunch of easily-led automatons! Try thinking for yourselves before you pelt an innocent man with cigarettes!"
- Occurs in The Elephant Man, when Merrick is out on his own and is discovered by a crowd at a train station, who begin beating him due to his disfigurements. He screams "I am not an animal! I am a human being! I am... a man." which stops the crowd dead in its tracks, as they realize exactly what it is they are doing.
- One chapter of The Buddenbrooks takes place while a wave of revolutionary uprisings sweaps over Germany and an angry mob of workers gatheres in front of the council building. The council members decide to hole up and wait for the crowd to disperse, but when it gets close to nightfall, two of them go outside to see what the protesters want. When one of the workers shouts that they want a republic, he is reminded that the autonomous city has been one for centuries. When someone blurts out "then we want another one!", the protest pretty much instantly falls apart and everyone is quitly returning home.
- Scout, from To Kill a Mockingbird, in both the book and the film, is unexpectedly present when a lynch mob comes for the accused rapist Tom Robinson. Recognizing one of the men, she gives the speech above—out of sheer innocence—and she breaks the mob up. While this is quite possibly the Trope Codifier, it's also a rare example when the shaming of the mob is entirely unintentional.
- Anyone who's familiar with the origin of the term "Let he who is without sin cast the first stone" will know that this is also Older Than Feudalism.
- Done several times, in fact. Also subverted several times. Late in Acts, Paul gets Dangerously Genre Savvy and turns the mob (a courtroom staffed by opposing political parties) against itself.
- Christopher Moore's Lamb the Gospel According To Biff elaborates on the scene by making note of what Jesus was doodling on the ground before he said the famous line - namely, a documented list of every mob-goer and their sins (a common theory from some time before). One involved doing something unmentionable with a goose.
- Spoofed in Robot Chicken.
Jesus:(smacks tied up man in head with rock) Blammo!
- Keeping with the Older Than Feudalism theme, the first epic simile in the The Aeneid.
- Also see Mark Twain's The War Prayer.
- Subverted in that the "mob" dismisses the shamer as a lunatic, and carries on anyway.
- Also also see Mark Twain's Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. Subverted in that the shamer, Colonel Sherburn, probably deserved the lynching; he'd shot a harmless man in the street, in broad daylight.
- The footnoted analysis of this scene takes up about half a page in This Troper's edition of the book, which basically boils down to "Twain is using this to satirize the Southern code of 'Justice.'"
- Twenty pages into the first Commissar Ciaphas Cain, HERO OF THE IMPERIUM! novel, Cain marches into the middle of a riot in the mess hall on his troopship and promptly starts yelling at the participants about the abominable state of the room and orders them to go get mops. Also a Bavarian Fire Drill.
- Carrot in the Discworld novels does this a lot.
- As does Vimes, with an especially poignant example in Night Watch.
- There is also the vicious tongue lashing Lady Ramkin gave to the mob who were attempting to lynch the stunned dragon when they threw rocks at the Night Watch (who were trying to arrest it). She delivered it dressed in a torn nightdress and a pair of rubber boots and cowed the entire mob:
Lady Ramkin: Who did that? I said, who did that? If the person who did it does not own up I shall be extremely angry! Shame on you all!
- There is also a villainous example when the vampires do it in Carpe Jugulum.
- An odd variation occurs in the first book of Terry Goodkind's The Sword of Truth series, the hero attempts to shame a mob who are out to Burn the Witch - literally, as their target is The Obi-Wan of the series, who happens to be a wizard. His speech fails to convince anyone. It's followed up by the mysterious woman openly threatening them, but not knowing what she is, they aren't impressed. Instead, The Obi-Wan manages to scare the mob into backing down, by threatening them with the magic powers they are going to burn him for having. As he says to the others, "Too cold * points at Richard* , too hot * points at Kahlan* , just right * points at himself* ."
- Subverted in the Ender's Game sequel Xenocide: Grego shames the living hell out of a mob of his fellow villagers... But only after they had already accomplished most of the damage they'd intended. (Even worse, it was Grego's mob in the first place.)
- He started shaming them before they accomplished the damage. It didn't help, though.
- Sir Jacelyn Bywater, a minor character from A Song of Ice and Fire, tries to employ this (offstage; we hear about it from another character) in the Battle of the Blackwater, when the men of the City Watch are abandoning their posts. He has almost shamed them into going back and fighting?-when someone shoots him in the throat with a crossbow.
- The dwarf Tyrion Lannister uses the same technique successfully in the same battle, when trying to organize a sally. Tyrion's forces are outnumbered, and while his masterful military tactics have levelled the playing field somewhat, they've also turned it into a fiery hell for all combatants. When the Hound returns from the battlefield and refuses to go back into the fire, Tyrion announces that he personally will lead the next sally. The soldiers are either too rattled by the Hound of all people being too scared to go back, or hold Tyrion in complete disdain. Tyrion gets on his horse, looks at the soldiers, and tells them, "They call me half a man. What does that make you?"
- Later subverted when the Hound is on "trial" by the Brotherhood Without Banners for the various atrocities committed by his brother and other Lannister soldiers. He gives a speech calling them out and pointing out he's not personally guilty of the murders. Arya Stark interrupts, pointing out one murder he is guilty of: namely, he chopped her friend Mycah almost in half.
- In Treasure Island, Long John Silver's men are getting tired of waiting for the treasure he says he's leading them to, and are prepared to kill him. He manages to turn the situation around by asking which of them had desecrated his Bible to make the Black Spot, the traditional declaration of impending death.
- In I, Claudius, Germanicus uses this to put down the mutiny of his troops on the Rhine. It helps that he has sent away his young son Gaius, whom the troops have come to view as their mascot and good-luck charm. The precious tyke walks around the camp in a miniature legionary's uniform complete with miniature caligae—army sandal-boots—so the soldiers have affectionately nicknamed him "Little Boot," or, in Latin, "Caligula." Yes, that one.
- In The Good Earth, when a starving, angry mob attacks Wang Lung's home in hopes of taking its non-existent food, O-lan shames them for trying to steal from someone equally as poor as them.
- In CS Lewis's The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, when they find the last of the lords they are looking for, the sailors are of the opinion that they should stop going on. Caspian tells them that they are assuming that he will let them all go.
- A silly example in The Lions of Al-Rassan, in which the merchant-turned-warrior and the legendary assassin together defuse an angry mob with humor and then tell them off for fighting amongst themselves with enemies approaching the city.
- A Charisian Guard manages to do this to a mob forming outside a church in Manchyr in the fourth Safehold novel. Unfortunately, he didn't manage to do it to the people who had organized the mob, who manage to restart it.
- Subverted in Septimus Heap, since Jenna's speech to the RatStranglers doesn't stop them at all ffrom hunting down the rats in Spit Fyre's kennel.
- Waco does this in the short story "A Man Called Drango Dune" in Arizona Ranger by J. T. Edson.
Live Action TV
- The X-Files: “War of the Coprophages”: Scully attempts to control the mob with a speech about how they are giving in to panic. The mob ignores her and creates havoc. , , 
- The classic Star Trek episode, "The Devil in the Dark" had Kirk and Spock protect a horta from vengeful miners by telling them that the Monster Is a Mommy and had legitimate reasons for attacking them since they were inadvertently destroying her eggs. Fortunately, the combination of shame of the miners realizing the carnage they caused and the exciting proposal that the hortas can help them mine is enough to turn the mob around.
- Subverted in the Firefly episode "Safe". A mob has gathered to burn River, who they believe is a witch. Simon attempts to shame them out of it by yelling that she's just a girl. It seems to be working, as the town elder acquiesces...and then River brings up a shameful thing from his past that she couldn't have known. Commence burnination, although Simon interrupts again—this time by accepting River's fate and climbing up to the stake so he can be burned with her. This causes them to hesitate just long enough for the Big Damn Heroes to show up.
- Re-subverted upon the arrival of the previously-mentioned Big Damn Heroes, who—instead of attempting to Shame The Mob—put the town elder at gunpoint and force the issue.
Patron: The girl is a witch.
- Subverted in the "Mummy Daddy" episode of Amazing Stories. An actor in a highly-restricting mummy-suit is caught by a lynch-mob of bloodthirsty Redneck Hicks. As they are preparing to hang him, an angelic-looking young child suddenly steps forward:
Child: I dunno. He looks like a good mummy...
- Gets dangerously subverted in the Doctor Who episode "Midnight".
- Sykes does this in The Movie premiere of Alien Nation, when the mob takes Fantastic Racism too far for even his tastes.
- Played with in the Pilot of Deadwood, a Mob has come to kill a prisoner and the Sheriff tries to talk them down. They're having none of it, so the Sheriff hangs the prisoner right there (even helping to break his neck) so the mob wouldn't have the satisfaction of torturing him.
- A possible crossover with Real Life from Rev Hammer's album Freeborn John, based upon the life of "Freeborn" John Lilburne. From the very moving song Battle of Brentford:
Nehemiah Wharton- Parliament soldier: My own regiment the Redcoats of Colonel Holles suffered the heaviest losses. We began to fall back to the town of Brentford sir, and when Brookes regiment saw our faces and our losses, well, they began to retreat also. Ah! who could blame them?
- In The Protomen, Protoman actually calls out a crowd on being too passive, asking if there's no one among their ranks who is brave enough to make a stand. The crowd remains silent, counting on Megaman to fight him.
Myths & Religion
- Jesus Christ stopped a stoning by challenging the mob: "Let he who is without sin cast the first stone." Nobody did.
- Thomas More, a play written in the 1590s (Shakespeare did the speeches!), has its title character persuade a xenophobic mob to put down their weapons by appealing to their sense of justice and promising that none of them will be executed. They do surrender, and get executed.
- The Nameless One gets to do this at a certain point in Planescape: Torment, sort of. He talks various rioters, looters and anarchists into abandoning their rather ill-timed plans and working together to reverse the city of Curst sliding into the plane of Carceri.
- Or he could just give the town the little push it needs to go right over the edge. No one said you couldn't play him as a Complete Monster.
- Happens in the first chapter of The Witcher, although it's debatable on whether the witch Geralt defended deserved it or not. It's also up in the air on whether Geralt shamed the mob, or scared them off by threatening them with violence.
- The mob definitely deserved it since they were trying to burn an innocent witch just because a religious nutjob told them to.
- It's debatable - the witch calls out a very specific god before she's burned. And she does try to convince Geralt by screwing him, so it looks like she's grabbing at straws.
- The mob definitely deserved it since they were trying to burn an innocent witch just because a religious nutjob told them to.
- Early on in Neverwinter Nights 2: Mask of the Betrayer, if you spared Okku and he joins you, you'll soon afterwards be confronted by a mob of spirit bears who want to punish Okku because his attempts to contain the Spirit Eater curse doomed his race to madness. With a good enough diplomacy skill, you can throw their charges right back at them by asking them that if they were in Okku's position, would they have simply let the curse run rampant, or would they try to stop it somehow. The mob then goes silent until the leader admits that they would indeed try to stop it.
- An inversion pops up in Mass Effect 2, during Tali's treason trial. If Shepard managed to keep Kal'Reegar and Veetor alive, s/he has the option of rallying the crowd in Tali's defense, which causes the mob to shame the judges into letting Tali off.
- Subverted in Dominic Deegan. Greg and Luna are targeted by mass ridicule by the people of Lynn's Brook. Luna stands up for herself, and Greg, driving them off. Later, they appear at Dominic's house, since the mob learned Luna and Greg were staying there and Dominic already had plenty of heat with the townspeople as it was. They, again, have to be scared away, even after Dominic calls them on all the dick moves they made towards his friends.
- In The Inexplicable Adventures of Bob, here, Bob chews out the angry mob (actually just four people, but Heywood had to form it on short notice) that has been hassling Molly, and they sheepishly agree to mind their own business.
- A character tries and fails in this Darths and Droids strip.
- In Impure Blood, Mac tries this.
- "Rosebud", The Simpsons. Maggie has a teddy bear which belonged to Mr. Burns, and Burns has taken away television and beer from the town until the bear is returned. An angry mob comes to confront Homer and takes the bear away, but when they see how Maggie feels, they remorsefully return it. As Dr. Hibbert laments, "We've given the word 'mob' a bad name."
- A variation appeared in "Bart After Dark". A mob of Moral Guardians is about to tear down the Maison Derriere, a burlesque house, when Homer leads the mob in a big song and dance number about how much it's a part of their history. It works. In an odd variation, the Maison Derriere is destroyed anyway by Marge, who wasn't there for the song. So apparently, the speech was very convincing. Marge promptly tries to re-incite the mob with her own song, but accidentally releases the brake on the bulldozer she had brought.
- Played with when the Mob at first starts to take his speech as further incitement.
Homer: My friends, stop! Sure, we could tear this place down... (Mob starts rampaging) WAIT! My friends, stop! Let me finish. We COULD tear it down, but we'd be tearing down a part of OURSELVES...
- Also, in the episode "Whacking Day", Lisa, Bart, and Barry White manage to shame a mob who are about to gleefully club to death every snake in Springfield, as per the holiday tradition.
- And in "The Boys of Bummer", when Marge shames and chews out the whole town for harassing Bart to no end for accidentally costing the town the Little League Championship and nearly drove him to suicide and landed him in a coma. The town is shamed (a "Bart Sucks" sign is replaced by "We're Sorry") and everyone agrees to restage the game so Bart can win.
- Played with yet again in another episode, when Homer and Bart are trying to escape in a float going 5 MPH.
Skinner: They're very slowly getting away.
- Parodied and subverted in a Halloween episode where Marge is going to be pushed off a cliff for being a witch:
Lisa: WAIT! Does the Bible not say, "Judge not lest ye be judged"?
- Seen in the episode "Radioactive Man", when Mickey Rooney criticizes Springfield for bankrupting the movie crew which had set up shop, and which had to leave as a result of running out of money.
Otto: (sniffles) Should we give them some of their money back?
- Subverted in a gag in Family Guy. Jesus delivers the "let he who is without sin" line only to...cast the first stone.
- And the tagline for fake film The Passion of the Christ 2: Crucify This. "Let he who is without sin... KICK THE FIRST ASS!"
- Subverted to Hell and back in the O.J. Simpson episode: When the mob reaches the Griffin house to lynch O.J., he stops them by acknowledging his mistakes and concludes that he isn't perfect, then asking anyone else who isn't perfect to stand with him. Then when the entire mob has come to stand with him, he pulls out a knife, kills three of them, and runs off.
- Subverted on Camp Lazlo: an angry mob has run Almondine out of camp for not wearing a wig (don't ask), when Patsy and the rest of the Squirrel Scouts step between them and announce that it's not the wigs that make them pretty. They proceed to take off their wigs, hair, noses, eyes, etc. to show that they're still gorgeous on the inside. The mob isn't shamed, but the walk off out of disgust and annoyance anyway. Then everyone starts dancing.
- On Jimmy Two-Shoes, Jimmy tries this on a mob that's trying to capture a space alien. It fails.
Lucius: Hey, it is called Miseryville.
- On October 5, 1789, Queen Marie Antoinette mounts a window balcony and curtsies to the angry mob that had converged on Versailles. At first stunned and silenced, they begin shouting, "Long live the queen!"
- One of many stories about Joshua Norton, first and only Emperor of the United States, says that he broke up a mob of anti-Chinese rioters by standing in their way, head down, reciting the Lord's Prayer. They left without incident.
- In an unusual version of this trope, Emperor Norton was later arrested for vagrancy, but the judge not only refused to prosecute, he gave the arresting officer a dressing-down, saying that Emperor Norton "had shed no blood, robbed no one and despoiled no country -- which is more than can be said of his fellows in that line".
- In another real-life example, though a bit less unruly than an actual mob, George Washington managed to discourage the Newburgh conspiracy, consisting of officers of the Continental Army that sought to start a military coup against Congress, by making a heartfelt speech to them claiming that he had gone gray and almost blind in service to his country. Many of the conspirators were brought to tears by Washington's speech.
- There is also the story of Washington, years later, brow beating and dressing down a group of officers who wished to make him King of the United States.
- What makes that first one a Crowning Moment of Awesome is that it wasn't Washington's words that first pulled it off. Though that was when some began to cry, he first managed to shame them by putting on his spectacles. The man had presence.
Washington: "Gentlemen, you will permit me to put on my spectacles, for I have not only grown gray but almost blind in the service of my country."
- During the Australian Aboriginal "Freedom Ride" of 1965, in one small town there was a mob of angry white men who threw things at the Aboriginal freedom riders... until one local Aboriginal woman called out some of their names and revealed they had been sleeping with the local Aboriginal girls. She did this in front of their wives. The men had no choice but to am-scray.
- When Napoleon returned to France, a group of soldiers were sent to kill him. When they got to him, he said something to the effect of "If you would shoot your Emperor, then do it." They, of course, didn't.
- It's way more Badass than that. It wasn't a small group of soldiers, it was an entire regiment he talked down, and not only did Napoleon talk them into not shooting him, he talked them into deserting and joining his army. After that, the King of France sent out an army of his own to take down Napoleon, and Napoleon did it again. After that, Napoleon sent a message to Louis saying something along the lines of "My dear cousin, please stop trying to send soldiers to apprehend me, I have more than enough troops already."
- Gaius Julius Caesar famously quelled a mutiny of his troops by addressing the rioters as "Quirites" ("Civilians"). You know what that means ...
- According to one theory, this was supposed to be a form of shaming them, as Caesar had always referred to his soldiers as his comrades or his brothers/soldiers in arms. Referring to them as Quirites (Citizens) was a rather blunt way of implying that they had already discharged themselves from his service by their mutiny. He offered to pay them their dues for the past 15 years and discharge them immediately because he claimed he did not need them. Reportedly, all the soldiers begged to be forgiven and taken back into his army.