The Bully

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"Every skool hav a resident buly who is fat and roll about the place clouting everybode."
—Nigel Molesworth

The Super-Trope of Jerk Jock, Alpha Bitch, and other bully characters. This is the Schoolyard Bully All Grown Up in his heyday. The guy who gave you wedgies and tied you to a flag-pole. The girl who humiliated you in front of the entire school and broke your self-confidence on your first day in. In Western Animation, it is required by law for the bully to refer to his victims by last name only, because, well....you're not exactly their friend.

A bully is simply defined on wiktionary as "A person who is cruel to others, especially those who are weaker or have less power." This sums this character up in a nutshell. They will target anyone who is less popular than they are, those who are unable to fight back, or anyone who won't fight back. Comes in different flavours as listed below.

Because Adults Are Useless, frequently students have to take matters into their own hands to deal with these characters, leading to a Bully Hunter. Alternatively, the bully may not get his comeuppance from his victims or their protectors, instead falling foul of a real Villain and having to be rescued by the very people he used to torment. Can lead to a reformed bully, if the bully is willing to admit to it. Otherwise the status quo returns to normal despite past events.

Particularly thick bullies will often try picking on the (currently) pacifist superpowered or extremely strong kid who simply isn't very sociable. This is called Bullying a Dragon, and it always ends badly, unless the dragon ends up saving the bullies and thus shutting the bully right up. This doesn't always happen.

It should be noted that a lot of social stereotypes that are not necessarily true in Real Life are commonly associated with fictional bullies: the bully, as a stock evildoer, is typically a Dirty Coward in the face of real danger, always dumb, and comes from an unhappy and problem ridden family background. (Real life will tell you that often the opposite of these is true.) Also, in real life, school bullying is not a Rite of Passage. Lastly, while many movies and television shows portray bullies as being enormous in size and physical strength (probably so that we feel more sympathy for their victims), bullies in real life come in all shapes and sizes. So the giant football player who sits to your left in homeroom probably isn't much more likely to be a bully than the scrawny nerd that sits to your right. Also, this is a Trope that has changed in fiction as Society Marches On; while bullies in older works usually received their comeuppance, it was often not at the hands of actual authority figures. In recent years, that has changed as actual recognition of the problem has grown.

Related character tropes

Related concepts

Examples of The Bully include:

Anime and Manga[edit | hide | hide all]

  • The kids at the orphanage who torment a young Lucy in Elfen Lied. It ends badly. Very badly.
  • Narutaru has Aki Honda and her Girl Posse, who torment the main character's friend in horrifying ways. When she snaps and releases her Bond Creature, they die in even more horrifying ways.
  • Doi from Wandering Son, and Oka to a more mild extent.
  • Takeshi "Gian" Goda from Doraemon is probably the most well-known bully character in Japanese anime society. His victims are every boy in his neighborhood, though he picks on Nobita the most.
  • In Daily Lives of High School Boys, Habara, known as the Archdemon, was the menace of all boys eight years before the current events. She needed ten Bully Hunters to barely make a draw with her, which forced her into retirement.
  • In Saint Beast, Kira acts as one to Rey, possibly because he always gets a reaction.
  • Yu-Gi-Oh:
    • In the original both Honda and Jonouchi acted this way towards Yugi. What finally made them stop is when they were antagonized by Ushio, a worse bully, and Yugi tried - very ineffectively - to defend them. Not coincidentally, this altercation happened right before Yugi completed the Millennium Puzzle, and Yami emerged for the first time, Ushio being the first target of his vindictive Shadow Duels. Also, Jonouchi admits he was trying to toughen Yugi up.
    • And there were lots more jerks like this in the early manga, such as the upper classman Goro Inogashira from the infamous "Griddle Ice Hockey" story and the Hollywood Tone Deaf singer Sozoji. There were plenty of Evil Teachers too; Domino High does seems like a pretty terrible place to go to school back then when the stories are all grouped together...

Comic Books[edit | hide]

  • Spider-Man:
    • Flash Thompson. (He mellowed later.) The Ultimate version of Flash is even worse. He has none of the depth as his mainstream counterpart. And takes far more pleasure in seeing Peter humiliated and picks on him for no reason.
    • Another example is Tombstone. He was one as a teenager, and only got worse as an adult, becoming a hitman by trade, where his tendency to bully people weaker than himself is still obvious.
  • Cruncher Kerr a character in Roger the Dodger which is a strip in the Britsh Anthology Comic The Beano.
  • The Red Skull. Worse, he thinks that everyone is a target.

Film[edit | hide]

  • The unseen antagonists discussed in Bully, the critically acclaimed 2012 documentary film that became a rare box office hit of the genre. The five subjects of the film – including those who had revealed themselves as homosexuals, or had Asperger's – were all severely tormented by bullies. (The alleged bullies were not interviewed for this film.)
  • Biff Tannen of Back to The Future. Also a Jerk Jock.
  • Conny of Let the Right One In.
  • Bullies fight Goku in the movie version of Dragon Ball. Also Bullying a Dragon.
  • Scut Farkus in A Christmas Story - with yellow eyes, so help me God!
  • Butch, in the The Little Rascals shorts.
  • In Key Largo, there is a grown-up example. Rocco is this way to everyone, even to his own mooks and alcoholic girlfriend Gaye.
  • Buddy Revell from Three O'Clock High.
  • Vanessa of The Grudge, who doubles as the Alpha Bitch.
  • Napoleon Dynamite features a somewhat-odd bully who always starts out by offering to trade something to other kids in exchange for letting him have or use something of theirs that he wants. Whenever they refuse, he switches into full-on bully mode and makes them comply.


Jokes[edit | hide]

  • This one captures the essence of bullying, so to speak.

Fox: "Bear, I'm bored."
Bear: "Yeah, me too."
Fox: "I've got an idea! We beat up the hare!"
Bear: "Yeah, great idea!"
Fox: "But we can't beat him up for nothing, we need a reason... I've got it: If he wears a cap, we tell him 'You have a stupid cap', and if he has no cap, we tell him 'Why don't you wear a cap, you want to get a cold?'"
Bear: "Yeah, great idea!"
(They go, meet the hare, he has no cap, they beat him up. Continue next day:)
Fox: "Bear, I'm bored."
Bear: "Yeah, me too... can we beat up the hare again?"
Fox: "Yeah, but we need a reason... I've got it: We ask him for a cigarette. If he offers us one with filter, we tell him 'Don't you know the filter kills the taste?', and if he offers us one without, we tell him 'Do you want to poison us?'"
(They go, meet the hare.)
Fox: "Hey, do you have a cigarette for us?"
Hare: "With or without filter?"
Fox: "Bear, have you noticed he still doesn't wear a cap?"


Literature[edit | hide]

  • Dudley and Malfoy of Harry Potter.
    • To some extent James was one.
    • Sirius, definitely, at least during his school days.
    • And on that note, Snape as a teacher definitely qualifies.
  • Edmund Pevensie, in the first book of Chronicles of Narnia, liked to bully and torment his younger sister, Lucy.
  • Bugs Meany of Encyclopedia Brown.
  • The cyberpunk novel Otherland could be interpreted as something of a Fantastic Aesop about bullying. The antagonists are all bullies of one sort or another; the most developed of whom, Corrupt Corporate Executive Felix Jongleur, describes a upbringing in a Boarding School of Horrors where he was the victim of the resident Gang of Bullies. In revenge, he became a bully himself, meting out vicious summary punishment to anyone who dares offend him. His use of pain to control his subordinates comes full circle when Psycho for Hire Dread pulls an Eviler Than Thou on him and the Other, his quasi-AI computer system, finally snaps under the constant torture and tries to kill him.
  • Ralon in the Song of the Lioness enjoyed picking on and beating up Alanna and other smaller boys in his classes, even breaking Alanna's arm at one point while getting away with it. Of course, Alanna managed to put up a good fight and eventually beat him at his own game.
  • Sonny Singer and Heck Bast in The Talisman.
  • Henry Bowers of IT. Later becomes a Schoolyard Bully All Grown Up, and a Complete Monster to boot.
  • Officer Felix of Outsourced is very much bullying of Isaac Fisher. His introduction to the reader is him absently aiming his gun at Isaac, before asking him some questions.
  • As seen in the page quote, Nigel Molesworth is more than happy to share his "grate thorts" on the subject with his readers. He goes on to explain that bullies come in two varieties: fat bullies who can run, who are trouble, and fat bullies who "can't run for tofee", who may safely be taunted from a distance. Sadly Grabber of st. custards is of the former type.
  • In Robert Westall's The Machine Gunners this role is filled by Boddser Brown, the Garmouth Grammar School bully and Chas McGill's most avid rival in the great game of collecting war souvenirs.
  • In Sinfest, bullies come to harrass Crimney


Live Action TV[edit | hide]

  • The brother on Strangers with Candy. To be fair, he bullies his sister, who at times can be something of a bully herself.
  • Harley Keiner of Boy Meets World.
  • Whitney Fordman in the first season of Smallville. Slowly gained some Character Development over the season, and when he left to join the army, he and Clark had a grudging respect for each other, and he even asks Clark to keep Lana safe for him. Then he is pretty quickly revealed to have been KIA.
  • Eddie McDowd
  • Sam on iCarly. Also Jocelyn from "iMake Sam Girlier".
  • Bulk and Skull from the early seasons of Power Rangers, though as Linkara points out, they "weren't particularly good bullies since it was obvious any ONE of the rangers was capable of kicking their asses."


Newspaper Comics[edit | hide]

  • Moe of Calvin and Hobbes. Watterson claimed he knew a lot of kids like Moe from his own childhood, saying in a retrospective that "I think they spawn on gym room floors".

Theater[edit | hide]

  • Cyrano De Bergerac: This play is not placed in High School, but uses - and even deconstructs this trope:
    • Played straight with De Guiche, who is a Jerk Jock using his power to bully Roxane into being The Mistress and makes a Dare to Be Badass to De Valvert to punish Cyrano.
    • Deconstructed with Cyrano: He is very cruel to others, (Montfleury, The Bore, De Guiche and everyone who Cyrano doesn’t like) subverted because De Guiche has a lot more power than Cyrano. Given his enormous nose and living in a shallow society that firmly believes Beauty Equals Goodness, he obviously has being bullied all his life… and now Cyrano is the most Badass swashbuckler, a real One-Man Armywho can bully everyone because he is the most powerful warrior there is. Lampshaded by Roxane at Act V scene II, after Le Bret comments Cyrano still is making new enemies:

Roxane: Ah! but his sword still holds them all in check;
None get the better of him.

  • In Street Scene, Vincent Jones harasses Rose on the street. When Sam tries to intervene, Vincent calls him a "little kike bastard" and hits him, then protests that he has a weak heart. Rose tries to tell Sam that "he's nothing but a loafer... ten years from now, he'll still be driving a taxi," but Sam is in his usual despair.


Video Games[edit | hide]

  • Bully has an entire social clique of bullies. They're the first clique that the main character has to fight and take over, ironically making them not a threat for most of the game.
  • Butch at the beginning of Fallout 3.
  • You meet bullies in Fable 1 and 2 and beat the crap out of them for the greater good.
  • Bobby Zilch of Psychonauts. Not a very effective one though.
  • Spider from The Adventures of Willy Beamish. Want to make it past him unscathed? Give Him Your Inventory Item.
  • In Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, the Dragonborn meets Braith in Whiterun, a bratty child who doesn't hesitate to mouth off to anyone, including you or her parents. She's also bullying Lars, a child younger than her. There's no option to let you give her a good spanking (something you'll want to do after a few interactions) but she'll back off Lars quickly (and admit she has a crush on him) if you threaten her on his behalf.

Web Comics[edit | hide]


Web Original[edit | hide]

  • Cardin Winchester (along with the rest of his team) in Volume 1 of RWBY is an unmitigated ass to Jaune, Velvet and anyone else they think they can get away with abusing. When Jaune takes a level in badass, he appears to shock Cardin into better behavior, but it may just be that we don't see him bullying other targets once he moves out of the focus of the show.


Western Animation[edit | hide]