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The "Kick Me" prank is iconic; it's the go to prank for unoriginal bullies. It's utile enough that a bully can use it to show he's a bully; he wants a victim kicked. Everyone gets to be in on the joke and the poor victim can't figure out why everyone's being so mean to him. This usually also demonstrates the Butt Monkey status of the victim.
It can also be used to show that the erstwhile victim is clever; he knows that the bully is a bully and thus pulls the paper off his back.
It can be used to show that a bystander is heroic when he pulls the sign off another's back, or that he's a Knight in Sour Armor by cracking wise as he does so.
The prank comes in infinite variety. The prank requested need not be a kick; it could be a slap, a poke, or a tickle. It could be a message like, "Laugh, but don't tell me about it" or an insulting/humiliating message. Sometimes it's not even a bad thing; it could be a request for a hug.
Check your back.
- This issue of Superman.
- This tropes forms the image on the Quantum and Woody page.
- Done mutually ("kick me" and "I eat dog shit" respectively) by Lobo and The Mask in their crossover.
- When Spider-Man left the alien symbiote behind with the Fantastic Four and didn't have a spare costume, he gets an older FF suit to wear, and Johnny Storm provides a paper bag (since the FF didn't wear masks) to conceal Spidey's identity, leading him to briefly become the "Amazing Bag-Man". Johnny, ever the prankster, also gave Spidey a "Kick Me" sign on the back, that (combined with the bag mask) led onlookers to suspect it was some sort of initiation prank.
- The Yancy Street Gang's been known to do this to the Thing from time to time as part of their ongoing rivalry. Johnny's probably done this to Ben too.
- This Opranks video parodies the trope.
- In the first Back to The Future, back in the past, Biff Tannen, unoriginal bastard what he is, loves this bit. Principal Strickland even lampshades it. Poor George McFly.
- Referenced in the first line of "If You're Going Through Hell (Before the Devil Even Knows)" by Rodney Atkins: "You know those times it feels like there's a sign there on your back / Says 'I don't mind if you kick me, seems like everybody has'."
- Dilbert thinks his co-workers have put a sign on his back, and leaves work early to avoid being slapped on the back constantly. Turned out there was no sign, but the men's room was out of paper towels and they were using Dilbert's shirt to dry their hands.
- A Garfield strip used a variant of this. Jon came home looking dirty and beaten up, because someone apparently stuck a "Bury Me Alive" sign on his back.
- The Far Side had a comic where a bear had a "Shoot Me" sign on his back, and another where a donkey cooking a barbecue had "Kick the Cook" on the back of its apron.
Live Action TV
- In the first season April Fool's Day episode of Community, Leonard does this to the dean during the opening deannouncements.
- In an episode of Scrubs, Kelso was ready to throw a patient (who happens to be Dr Cox's mentor) out of the hospital just before he nearly died, and then takes credit for saving his life. Cox puts a sign on Kelso's back saying "Never stop kicking me". The patient removes it ... and discovers it's on the back of the discharge form.
Dr Kelso: Oh, very clever.
Dr Cox: What? It wasn't me. I think you put it there yourself to get attention.
- Dorothy, being a substitute teacher, rather expectedly gets this treatment in The Golden Girls.
- Friends: This is one of the many pranks Rachel teaches Ross's son, Ben.
- On News Radio, Bill puts a "Spaz" sign on Matthew.
- In an episode of How I Met Your Mother, Lily and Robin stick a sign on Barney's back requesting that he be called Swarley.
- Parodied in Just Shoot Me. Finch puts a sign saying "Spank Me" onto Nina's back. She turns around and says, "Now, you're sure everyone can see it?"
- As with many ancient stereotypes, this is Truth in Television. Odds are better than good that you've done this, had it done to you, or seen it done.
- A milder version in France is the "April Fish" on April Fools day, which consists of sticking a paper fish (the best drawn, the better) on people's back, as a "laugh at me" sign.
- In God Hand, Gene starts with a "Kick Me" sign that falls off when he uses his god powers for the first time. Keeping it on for the entire game is a common Self-Imposed Challenge.
- Referenced in this Dinosaur Comics strip, except instead of 'kick me' T-Rex wants to plant a sign that says 'kiss me'.
- In Sinfest "Big D" did it to Slick. And to Jesus.
- Order of the Stick: "cleave me!"
- The Simpsons loves this trope:
- One episode has Bart and Principal Skinner embrace before returning to their old rivalry. Bart attaches a "Kick Me" sign to Skinner, however Skinner also managed to attach a "Teach Me" sign to Bart.
- Another episode (the one where The Simpson kids are put in foster care) had Bart stick a sign on Lisa's back that read, "I'm a stupid baby!" That sign somehow found its way on Maggie and was mistaken for a label Homer and Marge put on the baby when the Child Protective Services officers inspect the Simpson house.
- In a different episode of The Simpsons Principal Skinner found a Kick Me sign on his back.
Skinner: Hmm. I thought I was being kicked more often that usual today.
- In yet another Simpsons, this one parodying The Departed, Bart's prank "Kick Me" signs are subverted into signs encouraging people to study more.
- KICK MEDIOCRE STUDY HABITS (with Kearney stopping himself from kicking Principal Skinner and picking up a textbook to read)
- The American Dragon Jake Long episode, "Family Business" had Fu Dog try to pull this trick on Marty, only for it fail and for him to notice that he had a sign on his back that read, "Kick Me Harder".
- Also done to The Huntsman when he was a teenager in "Hero of the Hourglass".
- In the Batman: The Animated Series episode, "The Man Who Killed Batman", the criminals hold a funeral for Batman, who is believed dead. The Joker attaches a "Kick Me" sign to Batman's empty cape and cowl before it is to be sealed in a coffin.
- In The Grim Adventures of Billy and Mandy when Grim narrates about Jack, a prankster to whom he gave eternal life, you see Jack using this prank on various people in the animated montage.
- On the opening of American Dad starting in the fourth season, Hayley sticks a peace sign on Stan's back, while Francine takes it off before he even notices.
- The episode "All About Steve" has one of Stan's co-workers put a "Shoot Me" sign on his back.
- Happens to Gossamer on The Looney Tunes Show.
- On the episode of Pepper Ann in which Pepper Ann and her friends start a prank war, someone stuck a sign on Pepper Ann's back that said, "Craig is superfine and super-mine!" (Craig is the eighth grader Pepper Ann has a crush on).
- Johnny Bravo fell victim to this when a pair of feuding clowns chose him as the victim in their "clown-off". The older clown used a "KICK ME" sign, while the younger, hipper clown one-upped him with a sign reading "I HATE RHINOS" (which lead to a talking rhinoceros beating the crap out of Johnny).
- Principal Wartz had a memory when he got the Kick Me sign on his back in his early years, and in the end, Harold tells Sid and Stinky for making a Kick me prank on M. Simmons from the episode "Full Moon".