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In Real Life, taunting your opponent is likely to do little more than irritate them. However, in games, they often do just a little bit more.

"Taunt" is a very common debuff or utility attack in games. Its most common effect is forcing enemies to target the taunter, but it can vary.

Compare Status Buff.

Examples of Practical Taunt include:

Card Games

  • In "James Ernest's Totally Renamed Spy Game", taunting a captured spy raises his point value.
  • The Magic: The Gathering card Taunting Elf causes all of the defending opponent's creatures to block it when it attacks.

Folklore

  • In Celtic folklore, being satirized by a bard is pretty much the same as being cursed; it could give you boils, affect your abilities as a warrior, or even kill you.

Tabletop Games

  • In all manner of Dungeons and Dragons games, both video games and tabletop, Taunt is a skill that has some debuff effects on enemies. In addition, player characters often have the dialog option to taunt particularly arrogant creatures (such as Demons and Dragons) to get so mad they do something really stupid, such as ignore the fact that their hoard is being looted in the background, or the demons to get so furious to blurt out their True Names, which ends up giving the Player Character limited control over them.

Video Games

  • In Mortal Kombat: Deadly Alliance, each character has an action that can be activated with the R1 button and varies from style to style. Among these are taunts that heal a small portion of health and taunts that boost attack power for a period of time. These were largely removed in the next games, with Havik retaining the self-healing taunts and a few characters in Armageddon having attack-boosting taunts.
  • In Diablo 2, the Barbarian has the taunt ability, which lowers an enemy's defenses, and more importantly, provokes ranged attackers into fighting up close.
  • In Street Fighter III, each character's Personal Action (read: "taunt") has its own individual Status Buff. For example, Q (already something of a Mighty Glacier/Stone Wall) can bolster his defense with each taunt, for a maximum of three times.
  • Super Smash Bros: if Kirby taunts while having a Copy Ability, he loses it.
    • Luigi's down taunt works as a Meteor Smash, and Snake's taunt can damage with the box.
  • Eternal Champions allowed taunts to drain an opponents "inner strength," which was needed to perform special attacks. Since the CPU could pull off any moves any time without regard to their inner strength, this mostly just meant you, the player, never got to use any special moves in arcade mode because your enemy immediately would taunt away your means to do them.
  • In X-Men Next Dimension, taunting charges up the super meter faster than most moves. Rogue's is also her only default projectile.
  • Plenty of characters blow a kiss as a taunt, with the ability to stun. The first that come to mind are Rogue in X-Men Next Dimension and Doronjo in Tatsunokovs Capcom.
  • In Tatsunokovs Capcom, Polimar can charge up his attack power by taunting. This is represented by three Polimar emblems on the bottom of the screen; one lights up each time he taunts.
    • Also, the emblems allow him to cancel any of his ground specials with another special (one cancel per emblem). Having three emblems is also the only way Polimar is able to use his Level 3 Hyper Combo.
  • Team Fortress 2: all classes have at least one taunt that can be used as an attack, such as the Scout's Home Run, the Soldier's Kamikaze (and Lumbricus Lid), the Pyro's Hadoken, the Demoman's Decapitation, the Heavy's Showdown, the Engineer's Dischord and Organ Grinder, the Medic's Spinal Tap, the Sniper's Skewer, and the Spy's Fencing.
    • When the Medic taunts with the Krtizkrieg, he regains 10HP. If he taunts with the Amputator, all nearby allies regain health.
  • Marvel vs. Capcom 3: Deadpool's taunt, a speech bubble, can also be used as an attack.
    • It gets better in the Ultimate version: Deadpool can cancel into and out of a taunt, making it a tool for combos.
    • Taunts can also be used to bait attacks pretty well, as you can still call assists (if rush in on Spider-Man as he calls you a loser, you'll have to eat Akuma's Shoryuken for example). You can also cancel a taunt into a crossover combination (So if you try to attack Zero as he compares you to a training program, you'll have to eat the entire opposing team's Super Moves at the same time). Last but not least, you can X-Factor cancel out of a taunt (meaning if you attack a taunting opponent, they'll go into their Super Mode and have the perfect oppurtunity to unleash a deadly combo). So the only time it's safe to attack a taunting opponent is if they have no Hyper bars, already used X-Factor and are down to the last character on the team.
  • In the Sengoku Basara series, many taunts have an effect on the character's moveset, for example, powering up one of their special attacks. They can also be used to charge the Basara Attack Gauge.
  • Some characters' taunts in Jump Super Stars have special effects; for example, Eve gets a super jump. The stunning kiss from above is included too, but it goes to... Kazuki.
  • The taunting action in Assassin's Creed II makes an opponent attack sooner, so you don't have to wait as long to counter the attack.
  • In Mabinogi, the giants' Taunt skill attracts the aggro of all nearby monsters, taking the pressure off any teammates.
    • Giants also get a skill that makes them virtually invincible but immobilizes them, so Taunt is a good way of attracting enemies within range when they use said skill.
  • Art of Fighting was the first fighting game to have this feature. Taunting affects the opponent's spirit gauge, lowering it, which limits their ability to use special attacks. Specials also suffer from reduced range and become weaker as the gauge depletes. Art of Fighting's spirit management system and use of taunts offered a strategic element meant to prevent players from simply spamming special attacks.
  • In earlier iterations of The King of Fighters, taunting lowers the other player's power bar. In more recent installments, it actually does the reverse, allowing opponents to gain a bit of meter.
  • In Blaz Blue, taunting in story or arcade mode completely fills your heat meter (useful in story mode if you have to end a fight with a special move to unlock a given ending).
    • Certain characters can cancel attacks with a taunt to chain combos more effectively.
  • In Star Control II, the Pkunk's special action is taunting its opponent -- this doesn't harm the opponent, but does recharge the Pkunk's mana meter.
  • In Devil May Cry, taunting restores your Devil Trigger gauge and boosts your Style Gauge. Of course the higher on the Gauge you are the longer and more elaborate the taunts get.
  • In zOMG!, the Taunt ring is used to draw enemies' attention
  • Pokémon:
    • The move Taunt is used to make the target only use offensive moves.
    • Torment prevents the target from using the same move twice in a row.
    • Growl, Leer, and Screech reduce the opponent's stats.
    • Flatter and Swagger make the opponent's attack stats raise, but confuses them.
  • Mogul Khan, The Axe, a hero in Defense of the Ancients, has this as one of his spells. While buffing himself up with tons of extra armor, he taunts his enemies magically such that all nearby enemies are forced to attack him, preventing them from attacking anyone else for a few seconds.
  • In Super Dodgeball for Neo Geo, characters from both teams can charge a meter to unleash an unavoidable, highly damaging team attack. The only way to prevent it is to lower the enemy's meter by taunting him.
  • Tidus's Provoke skill in Final Fantasy X, if successful, makes an enemy attack him only, or even drive down the enemy's accuracy. It sounds like a spell, but it's performed through a rude gesture and sometimes a verbal taunt. "Hey hey hey!"
    • Final Fantasy XIII has this as an ability for the Sentinel role. The default tank, Snow, just waves the enemy forward and says something like 'Come on!' or 'I can take it'!
  • In Dragon Age Origins, Taunt is a generic Warrior class skill used to instantly boost all nearby enemies' aggro, making them attack the tank instead of weaker party members. In Dragon Age II, it is part of the Warmonger talent tree and has an even better effect, transferring all aggro towards other party members to the tank.
  • Lee Chaolan from Tekken has one where he leans back and wags his finger at his opponent, beckoning them to come at him. The thing is, while this may look like a taunt, it also has the more prominent utility of being an alternate stance that gives him access to moves that are great at countering a reckless charge, which is the likely reaction for someone who falls for the taunt. A second one has him lean in and say "Come on!" to the opponent, but if they try to punch him during the taunt, he flips behind them, landing in a perfect position to attack.
  • In League of Legends, Rammus, Shen and Galio have taunt abilities. Taunts make their target incapable of performing any action but autoattacking, and will interrupt a channelled spell, useful in itself.
    • Rammus' taunt reduces enemy armor. He has another ability that increases his defense and hurts people who hit him, with obvious synergy.
    • Shen has a dash ability that taunts all the units that he passes through, which can be handy for directed them away from a fleeing ally.
    • Galio's ultimate unleashes a powerful explosion, but he has to channel to do it. But because it also taunts everyone nearby, it prevents them from running out of range, and makes it much harder to interrupt the channel. The explosion also increases in strength based on how many times he's hit while channelling it.
  • Every tank spec in World of Warcraft has a taunt, which boosts the tank's threat level to that of their target's current target and forces the target to attack them for a few seconds no matter what.
    • For a while the paladin's Hand of Reckoning taunt used to deal damage, although the amount wasn't significant.
  • Most of the Shin Megami Tensei games have a "Taunt" spell, which increases enemy attack power while severely lowering their defense. Combined with Dekaja, a Status Buff Dispel, this can be a very effective ability.
  • Scarface the World Is Yours: Taunting helps to fill out the Balls meter, speeding you on to another Blind Rage.
  • In Super Monday Night Combat, taunting rewards the player with a little bit of cash. This is because the match is televised in-universe, so the players are rewarded for posing for the fans.
  • Taunting in Tales of Vesperia boosts the Overlimit gauge by a significant amount, but multiple abilities give it additional effects, such as restoring HP/TP and making enemies target or not target you.
    • Raven has another practical use for it in that it causes enemies struck by a particular arte of his to explode when he does it.