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"If your enemy is of a choleric temper, seek to anger him."
Sun Tzu, The Art of War.

A character deliberately insults and goads another as a calculated ploy. The most common reason is to infuriate the target so that he picks up the Idiot Ball and charges headlong into a trap.

Another possibility is that it's a Secret Test of Character to see if the target can keep his cool under pressure. After all, If You Taunt Him You Will Be Just Like Him.

Sometimes even Cthulhu can be annoyed beyond thinking straight. You'd better have a really good plan, though.

Sometimes this is inverted as an I Know You Are in There Somewhere Fight. See also Defiant to the End, Teach Him Anger, The Computer Shall Taunt You.

Compare to a Batman Gambit, of which this trope is a verbal form. Compare also Trash Talk which occurs during a competition and is more for general intimidation than calculated insults, You Fight Like a Cow which may couple this trope with a duel, Practical Taunt when the benefits are based on a gameplay system which may use this trope as justification, Victory Gloating which occurs after winning the fight, and Volleying Insults where two characters may attempt to use this trope on each other, repeatedly.

Examples of I Shall Taunt You include:


Anime and Manga

  • Roy Mustang did something like this to Edward Elric (using his Berserk Button) in Fullmetal Alchemist in the episode where they fought. He used that "Art of War" quote above.
    • It was during their duel, and Ed has resorted to hiding among the crowd watching the fight. Mustang makes a small reference to Ed's height within Ed's earshot, which makes Ed go berserk and expose his position.
    • Envy uses this a lot, usually while taking the form of someone near and dear to his victim. This tactic backfires spectacularly when he tries it against Mustang.
    • Edward does this during his fight with Lanfan. He presses her Berserk Button (insulting her master Ling) to make her attack more recklessly.
  • Mahoraba has the Secret Test of Character variety where Tamami brings Shiratori to Tamami's all-girl high school and then goes around telling everyone that Shiratori is a pervert, which gets him chased by half the campus, then has him haul a heavy load home for her. None of her slander or demands fazes him and he passes the test.
  • Ranma ½: Used by Ranma in conjunction with the Hiryu Shoten Ha technique, since the technique doesn't work against a calm opponent. When faced with a opponent who deliberately remains calm in order to foil the technique Ranma resorted to alternate methods, such as showing photos of himself dressed in lingerie to a lecherous foe, or manipulating the existing heat and cold in the vicinity (with or without magical tools.)
    • Pantyhose Taro is, however, the undisputed master at this. He will taunt his opponent throughout the entire match, flaunting his superiority over them (or their anxiety over him turning into his monstrous form) until they're raving mad at him and make a fatal mistake. Then he moves in for the kill.
      • In the manga, while Pantyhose Taro is good, Ranma is better. Because Ranma is such a Manipulative Bastard, this is one of his techniques in fighting. Makes sense, since he insults people on a regular basis.
    • When Ranma found himself unable to counter Ryouga's brand new Lion's Roar Bullet (Shishihokodan), Genma took him aside to teach him the fearsome, terrible Cry of the Mad Dog. Step one: back away and out of range. Step two: cup your hands around your mouth. Step three: At the top of your voice, shout, "Idiot! Fool! Moron!"
  • Princess Kraehe (and later the character Mytho) in Princess Tutu use this against Fakir throughout much of the series to damage his confidence bit by bit.
  • In Dragonball Z, during their match at the end of the Buu saga, Goku angered Uub into attacking him by insulting his parents and using racist pejoratives.
    • Vegeta is the victim of this, a lot. As fond as he is of trash talking, he can be easily manipulated and goaded into holding the Idiot Ball.
  • Used several times in Chrono Crusade, particularly since Chrono has a bad temper when provoked. Aion uses it successfully against him in at least one battle. Remington uses it against Chrono in a later battle to teach Chrono to "control his rage". Rosette also uses it against Rizelle in the anime version, taunting her about her unrequited love for Aion.
  • In Mahou Sensei Negima, Shirabe attempted this against Kotaro. It appeared to work, but he was actually faking. Those who remembered that he Wouldn't Hit a Girl could have seen it coming.
    • Then, after the tournament, Negi meets someone who's really good at taunting him. Kurt Godel, his father's ex-companion. Who manages to provoke Negi into releasing a Super-Powered Evil Side. Holy...
    • In Negima?!, Kotaro himself, in his introduction chapter, successfully taunts Negi into fighting him seriously, by trash-talking his father.
    • Kotaru pisses Negi off a second time after they all crash into the Magical World, by jabbing at his inability to protect everyone. Considering how protective Negi is, he doesn't take it well.
      • In this case, he was doing it because Negi needed to burn off the excess magical energy that was left by Konoka's healing spell.
  • In Doki Doki Densetsu Mahoujin Guru Guru, the heroes meet a monster called Unbell that blocks the door they need to pass. A nearby diary warns that attacking Unbell will only make it bigger and heavier until it's impossible to move at all. Naturally, Unbell constantly taunts those in front of him specifically to provoke this.
  • Seto Kaiba of Yu-Gi-Oh! loves this technique.
  • Subverted in Yu-Gi-Oh! GX in that Judai's opponents generally go out of their way to insult and harass him after one upping him. However, he doesn't take dueling quite as seriously as his opponents and is basically having a great time, which in turn unnerves them back. Much more prevalent in the dub.
  • In Bleach, Aizen uses this against the Vizards and remaining captains in Karakura, Shinji warns everyone to stay calm, but Hiyori falls for it and gets either cut into two from behind (manga) or Impaled with Extreme Prejudice (anime) by Gin.
  • In Naruto, Sakura uses this during her fight with Ino in the Chuunin exams. Ino was holding back at the start of it whereas Sakura wants to fight for real, so she starts taunting her rival by hitting her two Berserk Buttons (being called "pig" and having someone claim ownership of Sasuke) deliberately.
    • This is actually a fairly common ploy in Naruto. When used against plenty of the characters, especially Naruto himself, it works quite well, and the taunted character ends up losing his/her judgment and getting beaten. The problem comes when someone tries this with Sasuke. Insulting his clan or hurting his friends definitely presses his Berserk Button, but instead of losing his judgment, it's his morals that tend to go out the window. People who taunt Sasuke have a tendency to end up beaten to a pulp, if not dead.
  • In One Piece, Admiral Akainu attepmts to stop Ace from escaping and goad him into fight by insulting Ace's adoptive father, Whitebeard. This works all too horrifyingly well.
    • A lighter example: Most of the schemes that Sanji plots during the Alabasta Arc revolve around pissing Crocodile off enough. It's both fabulous AND hilarious!
  • Jessie Mavia in Kinnikuman is a master at move reversals and counters, but possesses no original techniques of his own. He's Hoist by His Own Petard when Kinnikuman goads him into going on the offensive.
  • Lelouch as Zero calling Jeremiah Orange in reference to his disgrace during season 1 of Code Geass.
  • Reilan in Haou Airen uses this as a part of her Thanatos Gambit, taunting and insulting Hakuron until he snaps and shoots her dead.
  • A common strategy for Joseph Joestar in Jo Jos Bizarre Adventure. In his fight with Blood Knight Wham, he actually gets Wham to not kill him by taunting him that he'd be strong enough to beat Wham if given one month.
  • In Death Note, this is L's preferred tactic of dealing with Kira: pile on the perceived pressure and the subtle mockery until Kira makes a mistake. Most obviously, during the famous "Lind L Tailor" broadcast he openly calls Kira evil. Light takes the bait and kills the guy in the broadcast, thus revealing 1) That he does in fact have a supernatural killing power and 2) where he was (since the broadcast was only being aired in the Kanto region of Japan).
  • Inuyasha: Mouryoumaru tries this. Upon realising that the calm, rational one is Sesshoumaru and Inuyasha's easily goaded, he begins targeting Inuyasha by insulting Kagura's death, dismissing her sacrifice for Kohaku's life and mocking her desire for freedom as Inuyasha, Kagome, Miroku and Sango become angrier and angrier. Unfortunately for Mouryoumaru, his plan backfires when, to everyone's complete shock, the person who explodes into an Unstoppable Rage isn't Inuyasha, it's Sesshoumaru. Everything degenerates into chaos at that point.


Comic Books

  • Spider-Man's well-known wisecracking serves the dual purpose of keeping his spirits up and annoying the crap out of his enemies.

 Some villain: Blast it! You talk so much, you've got me confused!

Spider-man: How about that? I've got a super-power I didn't even know about about: My Spider-Speech!

    • Deadpool does the same thing, only his jokes tend to be cruder and is more a result of his insanity than a tactical move.

  Domino: I always forget (or just block out to spare myself the agony) what Wilson's most lethal weapon is... his mouth! He'll talk nonsense until you surrender or commit suicide.

    • Naturally, when Spidey and Deadpool fought, taunts played an even bigger part than physical attacks. Spider-Man effectively won the fight by rendering Deadpool speechless with the taunt "Kids don't wear Deadpool Underoos!"
      • Well, of course they don't! Old ladies wear Deadpool underoos!
  • Paid tribute to early in Spider-Man 2099. Spider-Man is being chased by a very persistent (and very talkative) cyborg bounty hunter, and he wonders to himself "Lord! I wonder if I get on people's nerves this much when I mouth off as Miguel?"
    • A deliberate inversion, as writer Peter David deliberately created Spider-Man 2099 as an opposite of Peter Parker -- Parker is shy in person and talkative in costume, which the 2099 version inverts.
  • Batgirl's first confrontation with the Joker, Batgirl (the Barbara Gordon version) stops him from finishing off a wounded Batman by laughing at him, thus stalling him until the police arrive.
    • Later, the Cassandra Cain version of Batgirl pulls a similar trick by walking away from the Joker in the middle of a fight and saying, "Bored. You're boring." (It helped that she knew of Barbara's earlier gambit.)
  • Savage Dragon also regularly taunts his opponents. The most classic example would be his fights with Powerhouse - a deadly supervillain who has a face that looks like a chicken. There about five jokes per panel.
  • Reed Richards snaps his wife Sue out of the Hatemonger's Emotion Bomb mind control by hurling condescending and misogynistic taunts in order to enrage her as much as possible (the mind control could only be broken by powerful emotions that stemmed from a different source.) Of course, some fans who never actually read the story and only saw that semi-infamous panel of him bitchslapping her while yelling "Shut up!" got the wrong idea...


Film

  • In Star Trek II the Wrath of Khan, Kirk ensures that Khan will follow him into the Mutara Nebula (which will negate many of Khan's current tactical advantages) by making it a dare and stomping on Khan's sense of superiority ("I'm laughing at the superior intellect.")
  • Used by a much younger alternate-universe Kirk in the 2009 Star Trek film as a way of getting Spock to prove himself unfit to command the Enterprise. It was slightly more successful than intended - Spock came very, very close to throttling Kirk.
  • Also used in Star Trek: First contact. After the Borg have taken over most of the Enterprise, captain Picard stubbornly refuses to activate the self-destruct sequence and evacuate the ship. In one of Patrick Stewart's finer moments in acting, Lily proceeds to taunt Picard until Picard loses it and delivers a furious tirade against the Borg, which in turn makes him realize his hatred of the Borg is affecting his judgment.
    • Well, that Lily points out that he broke his model of the old (TNG Series era) Enterprise during his rant.
  • Monty Python and The Holy Grail is the trope namer (though the French soldiers don't seem to have much ulterior motive other than to continue amusing themselves at the expense of the the silly kniggits).

  French Soldier: "Now go away or I shall taunt you a second time!

    • However, it is referenced while fighting the killer rabbit, when Sir Galahad suggested taunting it, saying it may become so cross it will make a mistake. King Arthur asked "Like what?"
  • The film version of Red Dragon.
  • Subverted in Red Eye, as calling Jackson Rippner by "Jack" doesn't particularly bother him. He just finds it mildly annoying.
  • In Serenity, Mal attempts to goad The Operative, to which he replies "You can't make me angry." Later on in the film, during the chase sequence, The Operative shoots Mal In the Back, to which Mal replies "You shot me in the back! I haven't made you angry, have I?"
  • Used in Happy Gilmore, leading to quite possibly one of the best fight scenes ever to appear on film.
  • In True Romance Dennis Hopper taunts Christopher Walken with some demographic facts about Sicilians which this particular Sicilian doesn't really care for. The result is that Walken and his mooks stop torturing him and go straight to killing him, which plays out as a victory.
  • Dark side characters in the Star Wars universe are often seen taunting their opponents. In the Expanded Universe, this becomes an explicit technique of lightsaber fighting called "Dun Möch." Palpatine apparently failed his lessons.
  • Spoofed in Duck Soup. Groucho insults the Ambassador Trentino, in order to provoke Trentino into hitting him, so that he can have the Trentino deported; the insults backfire (no, not that way), and Groucho ends up slapping the ambassador. On multiple occasions. Leading to a declaration of war.
  • In Igor, Dr. Schadenfreude does this to Eva to goad her into hitting him, which will activate her dormant evil bone and turn her into an unstoppable monster.
  • Thor: After provoking war with the Frost Giants, Loki negotiates a way out. As they leave, King Laufey says to Thor, "Run away little princess". Immediately lampshaded by Loki, who knows exactly what's coming: "Damn".


Literature

  • In Glory Road by Robert A. Heinlein, Star goads a fairly stupid but very strong giant (he's immune to swords and guns don't work there) in order to get him wound up so he can't think straight and "warm him up" for Oscar to kill. He thanks her for getting the unkillable guy angry at him.
  • Also happens in Jim Butcher's Codex Alera series, in the fourth book -- fighting a considerably more skilled opponent, the hero is able to defeat them by working out their mental weakpoint and talking them into a berserk rage.
    • Butcher just likes this trope - it's used so often in The Dresden Files that it's somewhat insulting to the monster of the hour if Harry and Co don't snark at it. Must come from being a self-proclaimed Spider-Man fanboy.
  • In CS Lewis's The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian, Glozelle and Sopesian goaded Miraz into accepting the challenge of single combat (expecting that he would lose and if not, they would kill him themselves) by subtly insulting his courage and his fighting ability. In The Movie, Edmund does this while presenting the challenge: Sopesian might be doing this as well, but since the Narnia films have likely hit Alternate Continuity status relative to the books, there's a chance he's sincere. (Glozelle effectively says "Go for it!" in the film.)
    • Well, one of them says "It's okay if you don't, we can make up an excuse", which is definitely goading. The other then says something like "Of course you're going to do it". Both of them were pretty clearly manipulating Miraz into combat, especially since they do go through with the killing him when he isn't killed in battle.
  • S.M. Stirling's Draka novel Marching Through Georgia. (Not that Georgia, the one in SW Asia.) The Draka blocking force has been defeated. The Nazi units can bypass them and break through to take the pass and save the day for the Germany. The leader of the Draka radios the German commander and taunts him into neglecting his duty and trying to wipe out the Draka.

  "Do you have any messages for your wives and daughters? We'll be seeing them before you do."

    • actually said to the Romans by the invading Cimbri barbarians in a battle around 100 BCE.
  • Subverted by Discworld's Jonathan Teatime. It's pronounced "teh-ah-tim-eh", and he's a bit sick of people getting it wrong, but it won't drive him mad.

 Teatime: Please don't try to distract me.

  • Wes Janson, incorrigible jokester that he is, does this on occasion. Mostly notably is in Starfighters of Adumar, where he successfully goads his opponent in a sword duel into making an attack Janson can dodge - which opens him up for Janson to knock away the sword and beat the living daylights out of him bare-handed.
    • There's also the Yuuzhan Vong Hunter droids, who are programmed to yell "We are the machines! We are greater than the Yuuzhan Vong!" in their language. This is such heresy to the Vong that they have a tendency to charge blindly at the droids, which, of course, goes poorly for them.
    • Grand Admiral Pellaeon also uses this against the Vong, repeatedly taunting their fleet commander, Vorrik.

 Pellaeon: "Maybe I'm missing something, Vorrik, but I'm not seeing any evidence of this great plan of yours. We're destroying your yammosks; we've killed your spies; we're taking back those you thought were captives. You don't have the muscle to take this planet, let alone the others. Your threats are as empty as your boasts are shallow."

Vorrik: "You will eat those words when-"

Pellaeon: "Empty."

Vorrik: "-we turn your abominations into slag and-"

Pellaeon: "Empty."

Vorrik: "-grind every trace of you into the dust from which you were born!"

Pellaeon: "Empty, Vorrik! [...] You may win the occasional battle against us, Vorrik, but the Empire will always strike back. That I promise you. (speaking over Vorrik's ranting) You tell Shimrra from me that if he wants to get the job done, then he's going to have to send a bigger fleet - and a more competent commander to oversee it." (the Yuuzhan Vong fleet shortly withdraws)

    • Also in the Star Wars Expanded Universe, taunting enemies during lightsaber combat is a technique of its own, called Dun Moch. It is often used by darksiders trying to rouse anger in an opposing Jedi.
  • Used by Ender when he goads a bully into fighting him one-on-one (rather than 12-on-1).
    • Inverted in a way right after that, when one of Ender's friends bursts into the scene and tries to reason with the bully that Ender really is humanity's last, best hope. Ender groans to himself, fully aware that such a comment will only enrage his enemy further, but not in a way that will make him mess up, just completely homicidal.
  • Part of the initial exam for joining the CDF in John Scalzi's Old Man's War is a specifically calculated taunting, in order to record some brain information about extreme emotion.
  • Used A LOT in Romance of the Three Kingdoms to varying amounts of success. One of the more famous examples has Zhuge Liang, wanting to bring his rival, Sima Yi, out of his defensive position, sends him a dress and women's make up with a note saying "If you are unable to fufill your duties as a man, dress in this outfit and act like a woman instead."
    • This example is also notable in that it is the rare instance where Zhuge Liang failed. Sima Yi just laughed and put on the outfit anyway, spoiling Zhuge Liang's plan
  • A nasty variant of this was used in The Mallorean, where a pair of Tolnedrans are arguing in the street. One remains completely calm, while the other becomes more and more enraged over the former's haranguing. However, instead of the former goading the latter into a fight, the latter dies of a stress-triggered poison both Tolnedrans had consumed, the former knowing that he could keep his emotions under control.
  • Council Wars has Dionys McCanoc's pitiful attempts at taunting Edmund Talbot, and almost two pages of Edmund Talbot showing him how it's done.
  • The Doctor does this a lot, but in the Eighth Doctor Adventures novel Camera Obscura, he goes all out in one scene, mostly just to get back at Sabbath for making his life very, very difficult. He does all kinds of intentional Foe Yay things (well, Sabbath did steal his heart), hides a whoopee cushion in his sofa, flops on his desk like a cat while Sabbath is looking at something, folds his papers up into penguins, sings to him, etc. Do not piss off the Doctor, or he'll teach you how it's done.
  • James Bond pulls this on Hugo Drax in Moonraker while tied up, causing Drax to forget and leave a torture instrument in the room, which Bond then uses to free himself and the Girl of the Week.
  • In The Elenium sequel series The Tamuli, Ulath does this when faced with a small army of trolls to provoke them into attacking on the protagonists' terms.
  • Draco Malfoy goads the trio throughout the Harry Potter series, although his goals are usually nothing loftier than getting them in detention.
  • In the Final Confrontation of Artemis Fowl: The Opal Deception, Artemis and Holly have to stop Opal Koboi from diverting a subterranean probe surrounded by tons of molten metal onto Haven, which will simultaneously kill almost half of The People and reveal the remaining ones to humanity. Artemis' brilliant plan involves a mostly-reformed thief with a bottomless stomach and Opal's weakness for truffles. Of course, this is just a distraction.
  • Mundo Cani uses this tactic to battle Wyrm in The Book of the Dun Cow, insulting him and goading him into looking his seeminly oumatched opponent in the eye. This allows Mundo Cani to blind him, trapping them both underground.
  • After seeing his friend most likely fall to his death, Fisk has to listen to the villain of book three in the Knight and Rogue Series make fun of his morals for agreeing to work with them (not knowing Fisk only agreed for a chance at getting revenge)


Live Action TV

  • Buffy does this to the Mayor in the Buffy the Vampire Slayer "Graduation Day". She goaded him in giant snake mode to a roomful of explosives, escaped and hit the detonator.
  • Angelus does this to the Beast in the Angel episode "Salvage". Indeed, whenever he's unleashed, his favourite games are always headgames.
  • The Seventh Doctor goads Davros into using the Hand of Omega in the Doctor Who serial Remembrance of the Daleks, thereby destroying Skaro (or maybe not). He was presumably going to use it anyway but it gave the Doctor a chance to imply Davros was using the Daleks to compensate for being impotent.
  • In the Star Trek the Original Series episode "This Side Of Paradise", Kirk deliberately insults Spock in order to anger him enough to throw off the influence of mind-controlling spores.
    • He also taunts Rojan, in the episode "By Any Other Name", saying that his woman (Kelindra) favours Kirk over him. This is done to heighten Rojan's reactions and force him to acknowledge that trying to travel to the Andromeda galaxy in an emotion-filled human body was a mistake.
  • In Survivor: Gabon, one contestant attempted a two-part strategy of doing this and then getting the Hidden Immunity Idol off an ally to blindside everyone else. It worked right up until he learned it was a fake idol - after playing it.
  • A version seen in the Life episode "Everything... All the Time"-- though it's likely popped up in lots of other Police Procedurals-- is when the protagonist, in need of an excuse to hold someone for questioning, provokes them into attacking, then arrests them for assault.
  • An episode of Law and Order used essentially the same tactic, provoking a suspect that had beaten the system (by having the single source of DNA thrown out of the case) into assaulting one of the victims' brother by biting him, in order to get a DNA sample from the blood when the suspect hurt his hand.
  • In an episode of Chuck, Chuck aggravates Casey to get him riled up enough to defeat his sensei.
  • In Black Books Bernard does this to a gang of violent skinheads for the very simple reason that he wants to be beaten up and thus excused completing his tax-return.

 Bernard: Which one of you bitches wants to dance? Hey, you know when you're doing your usual threesome thing you do on a weekend, and the moonlight's bouncing off your heads and your arses and everything, does that not get a bit confusing? Right. This is you, okay? [He prances about] Tra-la-la! Millwall! That's the one! Do you know this chant? Er, 'Millwall, Millwall, you're all really dreadful, and your girlfriends are unfulfilled and alienated... '

  • Booth attempts this in Bones to try and incriminate her father (using a false identity).

  Max Keenan: You're just trying to make me angry so that I'll hit you. Twenty-five years ago, that would've worked.


Tabletop Games

  • Dungeons and Dragons
    • Kender in Dragonlance are infamous--among other qualities--for the ability to get any creature able to understand them riled up.
    • The Taunt spell could enrage opponents and cause them to attack you in melee combat (which was useful if they were more effective at ranged combat).
  • Mutants and Masterminds has the Taunt feat, which lets you do this. Not that there's anything stopping you from mouthing off, but this lets you use it in combat a la Spider-Man. And it's only one character point.


Video Games

  • All three Super Smash Bros games have taunts.
    • Smash 64 and the Brawl mod Project M have taunt canceling, which is a technique that cancels the animation of a taunt, but doesn't cancel the sound, is often used for humorous results.
      • Melee has taunt canceling to a lesser extent; only Dr. Mario and Young Link can regularly taunt cancel (due to their momentum properties), and the other characters can only taunt cancel using the cloud on Yoshi's Story.
  • Many Street Fighter games feature a taunt button that does nothing aside from performing a minor action that leaves you open to counter-attack. Bar none, the best taunting character is Dan Hibiki. In some games, each character is only allowed to taunt once per round... except for Dan, who never suffers this restriction. In some games, performing a taunt will help to fill up your opponent's super meter... but Dan has a legendary Taunt that lets him spend his own entire super meter on one overly long taunt. In some games, Dan can even taunt while in the air.
  • I suppose this could be said to be something that Apollo Justice adds to the Phoenix Wright series? While Phoenix provokes his foes into a Villainous Breakdown by finding the flaws in their story; Apollo can use his special power to identify his foes' weakness like this.
    • And throughout the whole Ace Attorney series, any time the villain of the day seems to have the upper hand, they will mercilessly taunt the player character, thinking they have them completely beat. The character then either goes into a panic since they're backed into a corner, or they go silent or taunt right back when they see a flaw from the bad guy they can exploit.
  • Neverwinter Nights and Neverwinter Nights 2 include the "Taunt" skill as an option for characters. In the first game it is almost useless as it is only an ineffective combat power, but in the second it turns into a conversation skill as well. The Taunt options during your trial in the second chapter of the main campaign are really silly, especially when you succeed on your Taunt check and Ambassador Claven looses her cool.
  • In Planescape: Torment this is Morte the Mimir's special ability - to hurl insults, curses and taunts so enemies will drop whatever they're doing to assault him, and only him, in melee. This works especially well on the Squishy Wizard, because they'll be so infuriated they'll forget to cast spells. On anyone else it's mostly just funny.
  • If you taunt your enemies in God Hand it infuriates them (increasing their attack power) but it also increases your Tension, allowing you to use your God Hand more frequently.
    • It's also very useful in drawing out targets to fight one-on-one, rather than getting bum-rushed by multiple demons at once. However, it simultaneously increases your Level, which makes your opponents even tougher (but the reward for beating them gets better as well).
  • This is how tanks work in any MMO with any kind of hate/threat system. The tank "taunts" the enemy to make it attack the offender rather than to judge the situation correctly and go for the squishy wizard or the healer.
  • Swashbucklers in Age of Wonders 2 can taunt enemy units, forcing them to attack the Swashbuckler (or ideally, waste their turn trying to reach him), collecting attacks of opportunity from units they must pass by. Heroes can get the skill as well. In Shadow Magic Bomber (Goblins), Glutton (Orcs) and Leprechaun (Halflings) got this ability as well.
  • The Hot-Blooded Matsu from .hack GU is fond of doing this. He belongs to the Moon Tree guild which forbids him to make the first strike in PKing, so he taunts people, trying to make them strike first, before he retaliates, citing self-defense.
  • Wing Commander has this as a basic tactic: taunting Kilrathi fighters has a chance of making them drop whatever they're doing to attack you (instead of whatever you're escorting).
  • The 7th Guest has Stauf taunt the player while in the middle of puzzles using cheesy one-liners ("I'm dying to see what you'll try next!") or just in general being a creepy Jerkass.
  • Tohsaka in Fate/stay night irritates Caster into not noticing that she and Shirou have circled her and Kuzuki to make for more favorable fights. Kuzuki notices but doesn't do anything about it.
  • Kid in Chrono Cross insults some guards until they open the cage she's stuck in, at which point the party kills them. Poor guys.
  • In Monday Night Combat, finishing a taunt gives you $5, finishing a taunt soon after a kill gives you $50, and getting damaged while taunting gives you extra juice.
    • And, uh, yeah, it can annoy your opponent too. Maybe.
  • The "Provoke" move in Final Fantasy X that anyone can learn forces the enemy to attack only the caster. the animations are different for each character, like slapping your ass (Rikku) to pointing at the enemy then to yourself (Wakka).
  • Fire Emblem (9 and 10 at least) has a Provoke ability, which makes enemies more likely to attack that person. It's already attached to some characters, and you can also earn one and put it on a Mighty Glacier.
    • Shinon, one of the characters with Provoke: give him a crossbow and set him out somewhere, and he'll do a fairly accurate Ike impression on the enemy forces.
  • Some games have pre-recorded taunts for use in-game, such as Age of Empires II ("All hail! King of the losers!", "Nice town. I'll take it.", "My granny can scrap better than that!").
  • Unreal Tournament games have prerecorded taunts for bots and players alike. The bots spout one after every kill, and you have the option of the game doing so for you as well.
  • Three moves in Pokémon: "Taunt", which locks the opponent into only using attack moves; "Torment" (the original Japanese name translates to "Impugn"), which impels the victim to never use the same move twice in a row; and "Swagger", which raises the target's Attack by two stages and also induces Confusion.
  • Harbinger from Mass Effect 2 loves to-YOU WILL KNOW PAIN, SHEPARD.
  • Shadow Hearts: Yuri Hyuga tends to taunt enemies in cut scenes, particularly Lenny, mocking the guy's intelligence until Lenny in anger tells them exactly what they wanted to know.
  • Marvel Ultimate Alliance has a Taunt debuff as an early option for one character. It's Deadpool's. And they tend to be a bit...surreal.
    • While everyone in Marvel Vs Capcom 3 can taunt, Deadpool's is the only one that can hurt. Literally. His appear in little yellow speech bubbles that deal a small amount of damage if the opponent gets hit.
  • In Scarface the World Is Yours, you can taunt enemies to gain Balls for building towards Tony's Blind Rage.
  • In Devil May Cry titles, the various player characters can taunt to regain Devil Trigger orbs and raise their style rating for extra Red Orbs.
  • Justified in Team Fortress 2 because a large part of the game revolves around dominating your opponent and nothing is more satisfying than taunting over a nemesis' corpse. Certain weapon taunts also have the ability to inflict massive amounts of damage or outright destroy players careless enough to stand still.
    • Plus the fact that some classes have voice taunts that auto-fire after a domination (or a revenge PAST a domination) that get downright personal, in-universe. "May I borrow your earpiece? *mocking voice* This is Scout! Rainbows make me cry!"
  • In Morrowind you can taunt people to attack you if you have a high enough speechcraft skill, this is used to justify killing them and steal their stuff.
  • In Chrono Trigger, Marle has a spell called 'Provoke, which taunts the opponent in the hopes of making them attack her. It doesn't always work..
  • In City of Heroes, the signature move of the Tank (though Brutes and Scrappers could take it) is Taunt, which is this trope played straight: pissing off the enemy so that they attack you instead of your teammates. Apparently, the taunt is so effective, aliens, monsters and robots will drop whatever they're doing just to kill you. One of the Invention Origin enhancements you can make is even called "The Perfect Zinger," not that you ever have any idea what you're even saying...
  • In The Nightmare Before Christmas: Oogie's Revenge, Jack's attack repertoire involves a Taunt (where he cracks his weapon like a whip and yells "Come on!"). This infuriates nearby enemies into 'Oogie Mode' where they become stronger and gain Halloween-style Tron Lines, but drop better items and exp. It's actually required to reach many of the level goals.
  • Vega Strike communication lines can improve or worsen Relationship Value with the ship (or other unit) to whom they are addressed. An observation that the opponent learned to fly by Correspondence Course isn't taken very well.
  • Both Left 4 Dead games have a "Laugh" vocal bind players can spam and are routinely used in VS mode when the zombie players failed to kill them, causing the survivor players to keep spamming the laugh command as the points are tallied up. The sequel also adds a literal "Taunt" vocal bind for the survivors.
  • The Age of Empires series uses prerecorded soundtracks explicitly called taunts slaved to individual numeric values. This allows players to spam certain numbers in rapid succession, (eq. 11, which causes a highly annoying 'laugh' to play).
  • Many of the Medal of Honor PC games featured prerecorded soundtracks as well. Most of them were operational, such as stating they'd seen an enemy in multiplayer. But a specific subset of commands is labeled 'taunts'. However, there are so many options that they're divided into menus, which kind of makes them a little too hard to use in fast pace FPS combat.
  • In World of Warcraft Warriors do this to keep enemies focusing on them and ignoring their squishier, more dangerous allies. While all tanks do this, with skills like Taunt and Mocking Blow warriors seem to be the only ones who do it by annoying the enemy into trying to squash them. (The in-universe mechanic isn't well defined, but it can be inferred that paladins magically force people to attack them or intimidate them with holy fire, death knights actually command the foe to attack them , and druids have "RAAARGH I'm a BEAR!")
  • Mortal Kombat has the infamous taunts of Shao Kahn. In the second game, he would taunt you mercilessly and in Trilogy, when you could finally play as him, he actually had these as special moves.
    • "PATHETIC!"
    • "IS THAT YOUR BEST?"
  • Hazama/Terumi Yuuki employs this as a survival tactic in Blaz Blue, but not in the typical, enrage-opponent-so-s/he-commits-mistakes kinda way... Or, well, not ONLY in that kinda way... Because people's hatred of Hazama sustains his existence in the world, being the biggest dick possible is a way for him to ensure his continued existence. He also gets off on making people miserable.
  • Mr. X in the Streets of Rage series will laugh at you during your fight with him if you get knocked down. In the remake, this is the same case but once Mr. X's life bar is down to 1 life or less, he stops taunting you and becomes more aggressive.
  • In Lost Odyssey, while you are selecting your actions, Jansen will tap his staff twice on the ground, hunch over, and make what seems to be 'come on' motions with his other hand. Cooke will put her hands on the side of her head and waggle her fingers in the 'na na na na boo boo' motion, while blowing a raspberry.
  • Resonance of Fate is rife with taunting and banter, and often trade quips with each other and the enemy mid-battle. Particularly with boss battles; the enemy-if humanoid/with the ability to speak- and your three protagonists will taunt each other equally. This is especially true with Hero Actions, as you're not encouraged to just stand and shoot. The funny part is the protagonists do not just taunt the 'bad guys'. They are not above throwing zingers at each other, particularly-but not exclusively- if you accidentally catch someone in friendly fire (all too easy to do), screw up a Hero Action, or otherwise blow it.
  • Assassin's Creed II and Brotherhood has this as a combat mechanic. It goads one enemy into attacking Ezio early; this will end badly for the enemy because of Ezio's devastating counter-moves. Also it's amusing, at least if you can understand the insults. The more obscene ones are said in Italian.
  • Any Resident Evil game with Albert Wesker, but especially Resident Evil 5.
  • Each and every character in League of Legends can do this, obviously existing for the purpose of mocking the enemy you just squashed. The taunts in question vary from Rumble's "Come on, I'm not even holding the controls!" to Skarner's "I am ANCIENT. You are nothing but an INSECT to me!" and pretty much everything in between.
    • It gets better. Taunt is an actual status that some champions can inflict. What it does is make the ones who were inflicted with it automatically - and uncontrollably - autoattack the one who inflicted the status.
      • Of the champions that can inflict Taunt, Rammus is designed around it. His Q allows him to rush in and stun at melee range, his W boosts his defenses for a short time and causes him to return autoattack damage, and his E, Puncturing Taunt, 'reduces' your opponent's defense slightly while inflicting Taunt for up to 3 seconds. His ultimate deals AoE damage in a radius around him, likely a melee range, which is sort of a soft Taunt in teamfights due to the massive damage it can inflict in a small area over time. Rammus is a tank whose passive gives him some extra attack damage from his armor, so have fun trying to kill him before he kills you.
    • Tryndamere is a special case. While he doesn't inflict Taunt, his Mocking Shout can slow enemies who have their backs turned to him, letting him catch up to you more easily.
  • In Tales of the Abyss, Taunting fills up your overlimit gauge faster.
  • In Tales of Legendia, Norma has a spell called "Taunt" that basically lowers enemy-attack power.


Web Comics

  • In Erfworld, Parson deliberately offends Ansom's (excuse me, Prince Ansom's) traditionalist sensibilities by dismissing the concept of royalty as "obsolete," and then provokes him further by declaring that Stanley's attunement to the Arkenhammer makes him Ansom's "superior".
  • In Gunnerkrigg Court, Jones starts badmouthing Antimony's father, in order to make Annie angry so Jones can better "assess her character". This doesn't work very well -- at most, it makes Antimony marginally irritable and (rightly) suspicious of her intentions. Annie reacts when such things are said in context where they make sense by people whom she doesn't consider strangers, though.
  • Angel Moxie had a double-subversion of something which I think might be this. The girls manage to get Tsutsumu furious during their battle, but he realizes he's losing his control and takes a moment to calm himself down. Then it turns out that was their plan - he was vulnerable while he was collecting himself
  • In Order of the Stick, Vaarsuvius does this to outsmart Nale's Kill Us Both situation.
    • But later falls victim to it him/her-self when another customer in a magic shop intentionally provokes him/her.
    • And even more later, averts this by not getting angry when V's enemy is being Defiant to the End


Web Original

  • Happens on two separate occasions in Survival of the Fittest with the same characters: Tyson Neills and Bobby Jacks. The first time around, Tyson taunts Bobby in an attempt to provoke a fight with Troy Mc Cann (to raise his 'street credit'). The second time is on the island itself, in an attempt to make him lose his cool and do something stupid. It backfires, Bobby does lose his temper, but in the midst of his rage kills Tyson.
  • Joey steals Bandit Keith's "In America!" catchphrase in Yu-Gi-Oh the Abridged Series. Keith goes berserk.
    • Also from The Abridged Series, Yami taunting Kaiba by making fun of his voice and motives.

 Yami: "Hey everyone, look at me! I'm Seto Kaiba! I have a dragon fetish and I sound like Brock from Pokemon! Screw the rules, I'm in love with Nurse Joy!"

Kaiba: "That's it, Mutou, you're f** king dead."

  • Done by some of the mouthier heroes in the Whateley Universe. Chaka has pulled this successfully both times superpowered ninjas slipped into Whateley Academy. She got the leader annoyed enough to make a major mistake. Both times. Phase pulled it off against an unbeatable, unkillable demon who had just crushed her like a bug. Literally. She managed to stall it long enough for help to show up, banishing the demon and keeping her from A Fate Worse Than Death.
  • Linkara pulls this on Lord Vyce in order to get him to come and fight him again.


Western Animation

  • In Batman Beyond: Return Of The Joker, Batman (Terry McGinnis) delivers an epic verbal beatdown to, of all people, the Joker.
    • Extremely rare example from the original Batman himself: In Mad Love, he taunts the Joker by saying that Harley had come closer to killing him than he (the Joker) ever had. Then Batman grins and calls him "Puddin'", Harley's pet-name for the Joker. A particularly hilarious Crowning Moment of Awesome.
    • Robin did this all the time.
    • The episode Mad Love also had Batman pulling this stunt on Harley Quinn. After she tells him her plan of killing him so the Joker will love her, he actually breaks into laughter (delivered in the most haunting, chilling chuckle by Kevin Conroy), telling her the Joker only cares about himself and mockingly informing her that he's played the same mind games on her with countless other people- she's just the only one to fall for it.
  • In "The Deserter" of Avatar: The Last Airbender Aang does this and makes Zhao set his entire fleet on fire, and later Azula wastes the heroes' time during the eclipse by mocking Sokka about Suki.
  • In the Disney Animated Canon version of Aladdin, Al taunts Big Bad Jafar into using his third wish to become "an all-powerful genie". Unfortunately for him (and fortunately for the rest of the world), he forgets "everything that comes with it: phenomenal cosmic powers... itty-bitty living space."
    • Although this one works, it isn't by making Jafar angry; rather when Aladdin points out that the Genie is still more powerful than Jafar is, Jafar realizes this is true and orders the Genie to change him. It's more taking advantage of Jafar's arrogance than playing off his temper.
      • Al does this plenty of times in the series though, especially to Abbis Mal.
  • When Cyborg, Beast Boy and Starfire have evil Doppelgangers of themselves made in Teen Titans, the Doppelgangers start taunting the heroes they were based on. Beast Boy's Doppelganger managed to get him to cry Berserker Tears.
  • While he doesn't often use it against his enemies, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle Michelangelo, in true sibling fashion, knows that taunting is a hugely effective weapon against Raphael, and will always use it when fighting him.
    • This tactic backfired horribly once when Mikey made Raphael so angry he nearly caved his head in with a blunt instrument. Naturally Ralph was horrified at his action and spent the episode learning An Aesop about self-control.
  • In Transformers Animated, Prowl had Bumblebee use his greatest weapon against Blitzwing to force him into his angry personality, whose corresponding vehicle mode was grounded instead of flying so as to have him crash midflight:

 Bumblebee: What, my stingers? My turbo-speed?

Prowl: Your obnoxious personality.


Real Life

  • This is very common in Poker, to the point where it has acquired the name putting someone "on tilt." It's actually risky to the insulter, because it can be a clue as to what you want the person to do.
    • Or, you know, you can get punched in the face.
  • Standard tactics in James Ernest's Totally Renamed Spy Game -- the spy cards are worth more points if you can pull off a successful taunt before the kill.
  • The page quote comes from Sun Tzu. The future founder of the Han Dynasty, Liu Bang, took this to heart, using it a lot in battles against his famously-irritable rival Xiang Yu.
    • The most amusing case of this was when Xiang Yu captured Liu Bang's father and (from across a ravine) threatened to boil him alive. Liu's response? "Send me a cup of the soup!"
      • That same taunt was part of an exchange that lead Xiang Yu to shooting an arrow at Liu Bang, which struck him in the chest. His response was to shout "Ow, my foot!"
  • This is one of the most common tactics of the only tactic of trolls.
  • In Iraq, during the early months of the invasion and occupation, coalition troops routinely lured insurgents out of cover and into reckless, bullet-spraying charges by insulting their manhood. As they were charging headlong into a few DOZEN machine guns when they did this, it routinely went badly for the insurgents.
  • A common tactic in various sports when one player attempts to provoke another one into doing something stupid. There tend to be a fine line, because the taunting itself can get penalized if it's too blatant or caught.
    • A famous example of the above tactic gone somewhat wrong was made during the final match of the 2006 FIFA World Cup. Italian player Marco Materazzi taunted his French counterpart Zinedine Zidane by insulting Zidane's sister. While it did work (Zidane got a red card), the reason it worked was that Zidane gave Materazzi a headbutt to the chest.
  • The use of skirmishers in traditional (i.e. formation-based) warfare followed this trope: Skirmishers would range in front of an army in a scattered formation and pelt enemy melee infantry informations with javelins, arrows, sling stones and other light missiles. This would cause undisciplined enemies to break formation and charge the skirmishers, who would feign retreat back to their own lines where friendly infantry could deal with the enemies who broke formation.
  • In schools around the world, this is how bullies work - many zero tolerance policies either punish both people involved or give a greater punishment to the person who throws the first punch. So they want you to throw the first punch so you get in more trouble than they do.
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